SAN FRANCISCO Some working parents are carrying more psychological baggage than others and the reason has nothing to do with demands on their time and energy.
The cause is their occupation.
According to University of Iowa researchers, parents who hold jobs viewed by society as aggressive, weak, or impersonal are likely to be more stressed out than parents whose occupations are seen in a light similar to parenting good, strong, and caring.
"We know that one source of stress for parents is the time and energy bind," says Mark Walker, a doctoral student in sociology at UI. "But what I wanted to examine was the extent to which discrepancy between the cultural meanings of a person's occupational and parental identities could impact the psychological well-being of working parents."
"What we found is, in fact, it does," he adds.
Walker will present his study at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
"I think the research is important in that it gives a name to something that I think many working parents experience but couldn't quite put a finger on," says Walker. "I think identifying the issue as a social problem rather than an individual one, or even worse: an imaginary problem, could be helpful to working parents in and of itself."
Walker's premise for the study was the fact that for every role people play in their lives be it parent, church member, or professor there is an identity. And attached to that identity is a "cultural meaning," which is how society views that identity.
"We use cultural information to define those identities," he says. "How people treat us and react to us is based on that cultural information."
For his study, Walker merged data on the cultural sentiments attached to parental and occupational identities with a traditional large-scale survey on work-family conflict and came up with a three-dimensional graph on which vari
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American Sociological Association