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Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1734–1745 | Cite as

Bringing Work Home: Gender and Parenting Correlates of Work-Family Guilt among Parents of Toddlers

  • Jessica L. Borelli
  • S. Katherine Nelson-Coffey
  • Laura M. River
  • Sarah A. Birken
  • Corinne Moss-Racusin
Original Paper

Abstract

Anecdotal evidence abounds suggesting that as compared to fathers, mothers report greater guilt regarding the negative impact of work on family (WIF-guilt), yet shockingly few quantitative studies have evaluated gender differences or correlates of WIF-guilt. In five studies, we provide an in-depth exploration of parents’ feelings of guilt regarding perceived negative impacts on their children that arise from addressing work over familial responsibilities. We accomplish the following: (1) examine the validity of a novel self-report questionnaire of WIF-guilt (Work-Interfering-With-Family Guilt Scale [WIFGS]), (2) assess gender differences in WIF-guilt in parents of young children (ages 1–3), as well as whether these differences are moderated by WIF-conflict and work demand (number of hours worked), and (3) examine whether higher WIF-guilt predicts more permissive parenting. WIFGS scores were predictably associated with related psychological constructs. Mothers reported significantly higher levels of WIF-guilt than fathers. These effects were enhanced among mothers with high WIF-conflict and a high number of working hours. Consistent with anecdotal accounts and theory, WIF-guilt was associated with higher parenting permissiveness. Results provide directions for additional research on parents’ emotional experiences.

Keywords

Work-family guilt Work-family conflict Parenting Toddlers Emotion 

Notes

Author Contributions

J.B. designed the study, conducted the analyses, and wrote the paper; S.K.N. designed the study, contributed to analyses and writing; L.R. designed the study, executed the study, contributed to analyses and writing; S.B. helped with study design, collaborated with writing; C.M.R. provided guidance regarding study design and writing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study prior to the commencement of their participation.

Supplementary material

10826_2017_693_MOESM1_ESM.docx (79 kb)
Supplementary Information

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica L. Borelli
    • 1
  • S. Katherine Nelson-Coffey
    • 2
  • Laura M. River
    • 1
  • Sarah A. Birken
    • 3
  • Corinne Moss-Racusin
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Social BehaviorUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySewanee: The University of the SouthSewaneeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and ManagementUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologySkidmore CollegeSaratoga SpringsUSA

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