Can Your Stress Affect Their Health
Letting work stay at work isn’t the reality of many parents. Recently more research has been conducted on if and how levels of autonomy and stress impact interaction as well as the relationship between parents and their children.
According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, parents in high-stress jobs in which they had “low autonomy” – meaning they didn’t have freedom to make decisions about how they do their jobs – tended to have children who felt less healthy. The study collected data from parents and children in Lagos, Nigeria through a health self assessment. One group was composed of low income families and the other high income. Although the researchers thought that there would be some buffer due to economic status, there was no significant difference.
The study found that feelings of autonomy in the workplace played a significant role in which parents’ work conflict impacted their children’s health. In addition “self-regulatory resources,” were examined, meaning ability of the parent to self reflect and amount of self control brought to parenting. “If a parent has too many stressors, it reduces your self-control”, said co-author Dr. Christiane Spitzmueller, professor of industrial organizational psychology at the University of Houston. Overall, the children of parents that experience low autonomy and high stress, reported more negatively impacted health.
“At lower levels of job autonomy,” researchers wrote, “employees likely have to rely more on self-regulatory resources to compensate for the impact of limited control over one’s job on one’s personal life.”
“At higher levels of job autonomy, freedom and more decision-making opportunities are likely to motivate the person to engage, but self-regulatory resources would be less needed.”
Thinking about how freedom on the job and how much stress accumulates at work may have not been a practice before but this study puts things into a different perspective. It would be great for companies to consider this but in the mean time relaxation in your own way and being intentional about managing stress are good practices to contribute to lessening negative impact on your children’s health as well as a great example for setting healthy habits.