Being a working mom is stressful enough as it is. There's the constant emotional pull between your desire to succeed in the workplace, and your desire to spend time with your children.
There's the never-ending mom guilt of not doing enough for your babies, the judgment from others over sending your kids to daycare, and the fact that even though women now make up nearly half of the workforce, they still spend more time than men on housework and childcare.
A quarter of working moms cry at least once a week due to the stress of it all.
But now, a new Canadian study has found that women who have rude or disrespectful co-workers are more likely to engage in negative parenting behaviours at home. In other words, our terrible co-workers are also making us worse parents, which gives us something more to cry about.
"These findings reveal some previously undocumented ways that women, in particular, suffer as a result of workplace aggression," wrote researcher Angela Dionisi, PhD, of Carleton University in Ottawa, in a news release.
"In uncovering how mistreatment in the workplace interferes with positive mother-child interactions, this research also speaks to a previously unacknowledged group of indirect (victims of workplace mistreatment), namely children."
The study, which was presented this week at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, surveyed 146 working mothers and their spouses. The working moms were asked about their experiences with incivility in the workplace, defined in the study as "behaviour that is rude, disrespectful, impolite or otherwise violates workplace norms of respect." They were also asked about how effective they thought they were as parents.
The spouses of the women included in the study were asked to report on their partners' negative parenting behaviours.
What did they find? Spouses who wished they'd never agreed to participate in this study. JK, researchers found a significant association between moms who face rude behaviour at work and more authoritarian parenting at home.
Authoritarian parents tend to have high expectations of their children and unconditional rules their kids must follow. These parents often offer very little in the way of nurturing, punish children harshly, micromanage "almost every aspect of their children's lives," and value discipline over fun, the researchers noted.
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"This style of parenting has been associated with a variety of negative child outcomes, including associating obedience and success with love, exhibiting aggressive behaviour outside the home (and) being fearful or overly shy around others," co-author Kathryne Dupre, PhD, also of Carleton University, said in the news release.
"(These children also have) difficulty in social situations due to a lack of social competence, suffer from depression and anxiety, and struggle with self-control."
The researchers suspected that because the working moms who faced workplace incivility also felt less effective as parents, they felt the need to be more strict and controlling with their children.
While workplace incivility might not seem all that problematic, researchers urged employers and organizations to take it more seriously since it may have a trickle-down effect. The vicarious impact on children should be considered when making decisions about interventions and supports, they added.
A 2017 study found that moms who juggle paid work with raising children actually work about 98 hours per week, or essentially, around the clock. On the bright side, a massive study released in July found that daughters of working moms grew up to have more successful careers, and sons of working moms grew up to spend more time caring for family members.
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