Friday, July 09, 2010

Family Life Takes a Hit From Recession

The Recession and Families: Post 3 of 4

What effect does an unemployed parent have on family well being?

Do men take over family responsibilities when their wives become the sole breadwinners?

Michael Luo wrote an excellent piece for the NY Times recently that describes the impact of this recession on families. "For many families across the country, the greatest damage inflicted by this recession has not necessarily been financial, but emotional and psychological. Children, especially, have become hidden casualties, often absorbing more than their parents are fully aware of. Several academic studies have linked parental job loss — especially that of fathers — to adverse impacts in areas like school performance and self-esteem."

Luo describes, "A recent study at the University of California, Davis, found that children in families where the head of the household had lost a job were 15 percent more likely to repeat a grade."

“The extent that job losers are stressed and emotionally disengaged or withdrawn, this really matters for kids,” commented Dr. Ariel Kalil (University of Chicago). “The other thing that matters is parental conflict. That has been shown repeatedly in psychological studies to be a bad family dynamic.”

"Besides quarrels over money, the reversal in the couple’s roles also produced friction. Dr. Kalil said a recent study of how people spend their time showed unemployed fathers devote significantly less time to household chores than even mothers who are employed full-time, and do not work as hard in caring for children."

A Singer: It's a problem that I labeled Role "Non-Reversal" Syndrome, where men seem to forget how big a burden their spouse bears as wife/mother....and they just forgot to switch roles when their wife works all day and they sit at home. Men at home, must quickly take over the lion's share of household tasks to give their wives some much needed down-time and stress relief.