Research from North Carolina State University shows that
working a job that doesn’t keep 9am to 5pm hours can hurt the relationships
between parents and adolescents, increasing the likelihood that children will
engage in delinquent behaviours.
researchers found that in some circumstances, an unconventional work schedule
can be a benefit for children.
To determine the impact of “non-standard” work schedules on
child-parent relationships and delinquency, the researchers looked at
nationally representative data from 1,986 adolescents aged 10-17.
The data included information about parent work schedules,
self-reporting from the children on their relationships with their parents and
self-reporting from the children on delinquent behaviours.
These behaviours included acts such as vandalism, hurting
others badly, theft and skipping school. Non-standard work schedules are
anything outside the conventional “9 to 5” framework, such as night or evening
The researchers evaluated two-parent households where both
parents worked standard, 9 to 5 jobs; households where one parent worked a
standard schedule and one worked a non-standard schedule; and households where
both parents worked non-standard schedules. The researchers also looked at
single-mother households where the mothers worked a standard schedule, and
where the mothers worked a non-standard schedule.
“One thing we found is that ‘tag-team’ parenting, where one
parents works a non-standard schedule, can result in stronger family relationships,”
says Josh Hendrix, a PhD sociology student at NC State and lead author of a
paper on the research.
“Specifically, in households where the father works 9 to 5
and the mother works a nonstandard schedule, adolescents reported higher levels
of closeness to their parents than households where parents both worked
standard schedules. They also reported lower levels of delinquent behaviour.
There was no advantage when the father worked a non-standard schedule and the
mother worked 9 to 5.”
However, children in two-parent households where both
parents work non-standard schedules reported weaker bonds with their parents,
compared to children in households where both parents work standard schedules.
While other research
shows that these weakened parent-child bonds put children at greater risk of
delinquency, the children in two-parent households where both parents work
non-standard schedules in this study did not report higher levels of delinquent behaviour.
However, children of single mothers who work non-standard
schedules did report both higher levels of delinquent behaviour and weaker
“Non-standard work is becoming increasingly prevalent in our
society, so many people will end up working in these types of jobs. We are not
blaming single mothers or telling people not to work a non-standard job if that
is what’s available,” Hendrix says.
“What we want to highlight is the need for social
institutions to be in synch with each other,” says Dr Toby Parcel, a professor
of sociology at NC State and senior author of the paper. “Research indicates
that approximately one in five workers works a non-standard schedule and we need
support systems – such as after-school programmes – to accommodate the needs of
those families. That’s just one example. What about households with parents who
work swing shifts or night shifts? Addressing their needs is an important
challenge we must face.”
The paper, “Parental Non-standard Work, Family Processes, and
Delinquency During Adolescence", is published online in the Journal of Family