Life Style

Managing work-life balance can be tricky

Kids pick up a lot of ideas in their childhood. Parenting styles can affect the attitudes kids might have to marriage as adults, past research has showed. According to a new study, the extent to which a person prioritises his/her work versus family life may be shaped by childhood experiences at home. Women, who had stay-at-home mothers ‘work like their fathers but want to parent like their mothers.’ The study highlights the important role of personal history and what we subconsciously learn from our parents. “We are not blank slates when we join the workforce – many of our attitudes are already deeply engrained from childhood,” according to co-author by Dr Ioana Lupu from Queen Mary University of London.

The research argues that our beliefs and expectations about the right balance between work and family are often formed and shaped in the earliest part of our lives. One of the most powerful and enduring influences on our thinking may come from watching our parents. The research is based on 148 interviews with 78 male and female employees from legal and accounting firms. They results showed a number of differences between women and men who grew up in ‘traditional’ households where the father had the role of breadwinner while the mother managed the household.

Male participants who grew up in this kind of household tended to be unaffected by the guilt often associated with balancing work and family. Women on the other hand were much more conflicted – they reported feeling torn in two different directions. Women who had stay-at-home mothers “work like their fathers but want to parent like their mothers,” says Dr Lupu. Women who had working mothers are not necessarily always in a better position because they were marked by the absence of their mothers.

The researchers found that the enduring influence of up-bringing goes some way towards explaining why the careers of individuals, both male and female, are differentially affected following parenthood, even when those individuals possess broadly equivalent levels of cultural capital, such as levels of education, and have hitherto pursued very similar career paths. The research appears in journal of Human Relations. This is the key to balance your work and life.

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Mian Bilal

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