Combining Work and Parental Roles
During the same time that young adults are adapting to their roles as parents and redefining their couple relationship to include parental responsibilities, most young adults are engaged as well in aligning family and work responsibilities. The fundamental problem for parents when both of them work outside the home is being able to coordinate family and work obligations. Role overload occurs when the demands of work and family roles result in a person feeling strained and overwhelmed. Research has documented the negative effects of role overload on family relationships (Erdwins, Buffardi, & Casper, 2001). Moving beyond the problems associated with role overload, however, recent evidence has provided a more positive scenario of families in which both fathers and mothers are working. First, women who are simultaneously carrying out the roles of wife, mother, and employee do not necessarily suffer role overload. Second, role overload is less common in dual-worker families than is role buffering. In many dual-income families, both parents act in many ways to buffer the impact of stress associated with performing the dual roles of parent and paid worker. Moreover, these young adults who are able to balance parental and vocational roles are healthier, happier, and more successful in their combined roles than are parents who function well in only one of these roles (Hochschild, 1997). Furthermore, there is evidence that during the early years, mothers and fathers both tend to increase sensitivity to their young children over time (Mills-Koonce et al. 2002).
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