Parental time with children: Do job characteristics make a difference?

Children Parenting and guardianship Social isolation Employment Work-life balance Families Youth Australia
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To contribute to our understanding of how paid work and family time interact, this paper examines how characteristics of parental paid employment are associated with differences in parent-child time.

With an increased participation of mothers in paid employment, especially in part-time work, and an increase in non-standard paid work hours, it is important to understand how such factors are related to a loss of time shared between parent and child. The analysis uses the time use diaries of two cohorts of children: the infant cohort (aged 3-19 months old at interview) and the 4-5 year old cohort, collected in the first wave (2004) of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). For each child, a weekday and weekend diary were completed, resulting in around 6,000 diaries for each cohort. These diaries captured details of the children's activities and who they were with in each 15-minute period. The "who with" data were used to compile measures of parent-child time; that is, times when the mother and/or the father was with the child. Descriptive methods were used to analyse mother-child and father-child time by weekend versus weekday, by time of day and by cohort. Very clear differences emerged. For example, children spent more time with their mother overall and spent more time with parents on the weekend than on weekdays. Multivariate analyses were used to determine whether amounts of parent-child time varied according to job characteristics. Association with parental hours of paid work, evening or night work, weekend work, flexibility of hours, job contract and occupation status were explored. Hours of paid work had the strongest relationships with parent-child time, although the frequency of weekend work also explained some of the variation.

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