What working parent hasn’t felt guilty about missing soccer games and piano recitals? When there are last-minute schedule changes at work or required travel to a client site, it’s normal to worry that you’re somehow permanently scarring your little one.
But how does our work affect our children’s lives? About two decades ago, in a study that surveyed approximately 900 business professionals ranging from 25 to 63 years old, across an array of industries, Drexel University’s Jeff Greenhaus and I explored the relationship between work and family life and described how these two aspects of life are both allies and enemies. In light of the deservedly increased attention we’re now paying to mental health problems in our society, it’s worth taking a fresh look at some of our findings on how the emotional lives of children — the unseen stakeholders at work — are affected by their parents’ careers. Our findings help explain what’s been observed since our original research about how children are negatively affected by their parents being digitally distracted, also known as “technoference,” and by the harmful effects of stress at work on family life.