Jobs and Parenting 24-7: Work Schedules and Parenting of the Working Poor

Karen Bogen, Johns Hopkins University
Andrew J. Cherlin, Johns Hopkins University

Much of the extensive work-family literature, based on samples of middle-class families, misses the unique work-family issues of poor families. We attempt to start filling this gap, focusing on the broad issue of work and family dynamics among the working poor, looking at one component of this dynamic--the relationship of a nonstandard work schedule (e.g., night or weekend work) to parenting behavior (specifically, time apart, family routines and parenting style) and to the subjective experience of parenting (parenting challenges, stress, and satisfaction). Projected job growth in the low-wage sector, with its high incidence of nonstandard work, is expected to result in more nonstandard schedules for working-poor parents. Based on analysis of one wave of data from the Three-City Study, we find that mothers in working poor families who work a nonstandard schedule give significantly more negative reports on the subjective experience of parenting but show no measurable differences on the objective measures of parenting.

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Presented in Session 8: Parental Employment and Child Outcomes