Many individuals have to make a choice between work and family due to ever increasing demands of their employers. Which one really comes first? Work or family? Do you know that certain things beyond your control may also influence how you balance work and life? This was the focus of a new study which revealed that your childhood experiences in the family play a key role in your attitude to work.
The study was published August, 2017 in the Journal of Human relations.
According to the researchers, what children learn from their parents about balancing work with family life, affects how they feel about work-life balance when they grow up.
The authors arrived at these conclusions after interviewing 78 male and female participants recruited from legal and accounting firms.
They found that men who grew up in households where fathers were breadwinners and mothers, home makers, clearly prioritized work ahead of spending time with family members.
Here is one of remarks made by a male participant who has a family with two children:
I’ve always had a very strong work ethic drilled into me anyway, again by my parents, my family. So, I never needed anyone looking over my shoulder or giving me a kick up the backside and telling me I needed to do something — I’d get on and I’d do it. So, I found the environment [of the accountancy firm] in general one that suited me quite well.”
On the other hand, women in similar households had guilt feelings and were really concerned about balancing work with family life. According to Dr Lupu, a co-author, such women “work like their fathers but want to parent like their mothers.”
This was expressed by one of the female participants, a director of an accounting firm who said:
My mum raised us…she was always at home and to some extent I feel guilty for not giving my children the same because I feel she raised me well and she had control over the situation. I’m not there every day … and I feel like I’ve failed them in a way because I leave them with somebody else. I sometimes think maybe I should be at home with them until they are a bit older.
So it is important to remember that “We are not blank slates when we join the workforce — many of our attitudes are already deeply engrained from childhood,” according Dr Loana Lupu.
In many countries like Nigeria where women traditionally stayed at home, things have changed. Some mothers that stayed at home drummed the importance of having a career to their female children because of how being financially dependent on their husbands affected them when the relationship turned sour. Therefore, children that grow up in that setting are likely to put work ahead of family in other to maintain a degree of financial independence. Doing this without undermining family life can be challenging.
This was highlighted by another female participant who said:
I do remember my mother always regretting she didn’t have a job outside the home and that was something that influenced me and all my sisters. […] She’d encourage us to find a career where we could work. She was quite academic herself, more educated than my father, but because of the nature of families and young children, she’d had to become this stay-at-home parent
Why is this information important?
This research highlights the important role parents play in influencing their children’s priorities in life. Children are likely to value their parent’s priorities, so making a conscious effort to establish goals based on the right priorities would provide a sound foundation for your children.
With the rise of technology, employers can easily track the activities of their staff beyond the traditional 8-5 workday. Emails, mobile phones and apps leave many employees vulnerable to bosses who use results as benchmarks for appraisals while setting ever increasing targets.
Although, it has never been easier to stay connected, you should always remember that connectivity is not availability. Therefore, decide when you need to stay connected to your job…and stick to it.