Academic journal article Fathering

The Interweave of Fathers' Daily Work Experiences and Fathering Behaviors

Academic journal article Fathering

The Interweave of Fathers' Daily Work Experiences and Fathering Behaviors

Article excerpt

One way to examine the relationship between work roles and family roles for fathers is to study the day-to-day connections of their work and family experiences. The present study applied an ecological perspective to explore how daily work experiences are differentially associated with fathering experiences at home. Data for these analyses were from the National Study of Daily Experiences, which asked fathers to report about engagement with their children on workdays, including quantity of time spent with children and whether or not fathers provided their children with emotional support or were involved in a stressful event with their children on those same diary days. Fathers also reported on the number of hours spent in paid employment each day and whether or not they experienced a cutback in their work productivity or were overloaded with demands and deadlines at work. Results from a series of Hierarchical Linear Models (HLM) showed that fathers were more likely to report providing emotional support to their children on days they also reported overloads at work and, on clays fathers reported cutting back on work, they were also more likely to report providing their children with emotional support or report being involved in a stressful event with their children. The nature of the job for fathers was also examined to identify factors that may moderate the relationship between work and home experiences. The association between work hours and time spent with children was shown to be moderated by the degree of decision latitude fathers experienced in the work setting.

Keywords: fatherhood, work/family, daily diary, productivity

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Fathering may be best understood as a process through which men demonstrate care and support for their children on a day-to-day basis over time. This contention represents a shift from viewing fathers as primarily breadwinners and disciplinarians (Bernard, 1981; Furstenberg, 1988) to recognizing fathers as active and nurturing participants in routines and activities that constitute daily family life, such as providing their children with emotional support (Almeida, Wethington, & McDonald, 2001; Bronstein, 1988; Lamb, 1987). Furthermore, this emerging perspective of the "new fatherhood" no longer views fathers' work and family roles as occupying separate spheres, but rather these roles are seen as integrating in a complex weave (Almeida & McDonald, 1998; Bronfenbrenner & Crouter, 1982; Kanter, 1977; Lopata & Pleck, 1983; Moen, 1982; Pitrkowski, 1979). An example of this is the synergy that Barnett (1998) suggests may exist between fathers' work and family roles such that work may enhance the family role for men by allowing them to fulfill their obligations and provide for their families. On the other hand, work may also interfere with fathering to the extent that work stressors disrupt fathering activities. One way to examine this work-family interweave is to study the day-to-day connections between fathers' work and family experiences. In this article we apply an ecological perspective to explore how daily work experiences are differentially associated with fathering experiences at home.

The ecological perspective provides a lens though which the complex weave of work and family can be examined. Furthermore, the ecological perspective places special emphasis on the multiple factors associated with fathers' work role. The interplay of settings within the mesosystem is an important element of the ecological perspective. The present study examines this interplay by looking at the linkage between two specific microsystems (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) pertinent to fathering: work and home. The difficulty with utilizing the theoretical formulations provided by the ecological perspective, and in particular those related to the mesosystem, is translating those propositions into an empirically testable design. However, the spillover or transmission of emotions from one setting to another provides a useful conceptual lens for examining and measuring these work-family linkages (Larson & Almeida, 1999). …

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