Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 12, pp 3757–3766 | Cite as

Parenting Adolescents: Developing Strategies for FIFO Parents

  • Leanne LesterEmail author
  • Stacey Waters
  • Barbara Spears
  • Melanie Epstein
  • Jacinth Watson
  • Elizabeth Wenden
Original Paper


The objective of this study was to explore the parenting patterns of families exposed to the fly-in–fly-out (FIFO) work pattern in raising adolescent children, and develop and test the usefulness of a parenting resource specific to this family structure. A mixed methods research design was employed using semi-structured telephone interviews and questionnaires to collect information on parental monitoring, behaviour management, relationship quality, communication strategies, and parent and adolescent mental health. Twenty-one Western Australian at-home parents with FIFO partners, 23 FIFO workers, and 41 adolescent children of FIFO parents participated in the study. Responding parents and their children were generally coping well with the challenges of the FIFO work pattern. Parenting strategies such as open and meaningful communication; family time spent together; routines; social support networks and setting boundaries were discussed as strategies that were adopted by the participants interviewed to parent their adolescent children. FIFO families face increased challenges in providing consistent parenting strategies given the cyclical presence and absence of one parent. They are typically unable to dedicate time to attending face to face or group parenting sessions and can be reluctant to ask for help when the FIFO work pattern becomes problematic. An online parenting resource provides an effective tool to communicate successful parenting strategies for FIFO families with adolescents.


Parenting Adolescence Fly-in/fly-out FIFO 



The research project ‘Raising Adolescents: Strategies for Fly In/Fly Out Families’ was supported by the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway), through research Grant No. 22913.


  1. ABS. (2011). Highest level of education (all persons aged 15 years and over). Fact sheet. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Department of Health and Ageing. (2004). Responding to the mental health needs of young people in Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009 (Vol. Cat. no. PHE112). Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing 2011 (Vol. Cat. no. PHE140). Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  5. Barlow, J., Smailagic, N., Huband, N., Roloff, V., & Bennett, C. (2012). Group-based parent training programmes for improving parental psychosocial health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002020.pub3.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Clifford, S. (2009). The effects of fly-in/fly-out commute arrangements and extended working hours on the stress, lifestyle, relationship and health characteristics of Western Australian mining employees and their partners: Report of research findings. Unpublished D.Phil. thesis, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Crawford, L. A., & Novak, K. B. (2008). Parent-child relations and peer associations as mediators of the family structure-substance use relationship. Journal of Family Issues, 29(2), 155–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study (ACBPS). Perth: Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University.Google Scholar
  10. Dailey, R. (2008). Parental challenge: Developing and validating a measure of how parents challenge their adolescents. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(4), 643–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dielman, T., Butchart, A., & Shope, J. (1993). Structural equation model tests of patterns of family interaction, peer alcohol use, and intrapersonal predictors of adolescent alcohol use and misuse. Journal of Drug Education, 23, 273–316.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dishion, T. J., & McMahon, R. J. (1998). Parental monitoring and the prevention of child and adolescent problem behavior: A conceptual and empirical formulation. Clinical child and family psychology review, 1(1), 61–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dockery, A., Li, J., & Kendall, G. (2009). Parents’ work patterns and adolescent mental health. Social Science and Medicine, 68(4), 689–698. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.10.005.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Forsyth, C. J., & Gramling, R. (1987). Feast or famine: Alternative management techniques among periodic father absent single career families. International Journal of Sociology of the Family, 17(Autumn), 183–196.Google Scholar
  15. Francis, J. J., Johnston, M., Robertson, C., Glidewell, L., Entwistle, V., Eccles, M. P., & Grimshaw, J. M. (2010). What is an adequate sample size? Operationalising data saturation for theory-based interview studies. Psychology and Health, 25(10), 1229–1245.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Furlong, M., McGilloway, S., Bywater, T., Hutchings, J., Smith, S. M., & Donnelly, M. (2012). Behavioural and cognitive-behavioural group based parenting programmes for early-onset conduct problems in children aged 3 to 12 years. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008225.pub2.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Galambos, N. L., Barker, E. T., & Almeida, D. M. (2003). Parents do matter: trajectories of change in externalizing and internalizing problems in early adolescence. Child Development, 74(2), 578–594.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gallegos, D. (2006). Fly-in fly-out employment: Managing the parenting transition. Perth: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University.Google Scholar
  19. Gelatt, V. A., Adler-Baeder, F., & Seeley, J. R. (2010). An interactive web-based program for stepfamilies: Development and evaluation of efficacy. Family Relations, 59, 572–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38(5), 581–586.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Gramling, R., & Forsyth, C. (1987). Work scheduling and family interaction. Journal of Family Issues, 8(2), 163–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gramling, R., Wooddell, G., & Forsyth, C. J. (1998). Work scheduling and the construction of family disruption. Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 26(2), 185–192.Google Scholar
  23. Hawkins, R. P., Kreuter, M., Resnicow, K., Fishbein, M., & Dijkstra, A. (2008). Understanding tailoring in communicating about health. Oxford Journals, 23(3), 454–466. doi: 10.1093/her/cyn004.Google Scholar
  24. Herbert, B. (Writer). (2014). Nine FIFO suicides in 12 months leads to call for investigation. In B. Hawke (Producer), 7.30 Report. Sydney: ABC.Google Scholar
  25. Inquiry into the use of “fly-in, fly-out” (FIFO) workforce practices in regional Australia. (2013). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  26. Kaczmarek, E., & Sibbel, A. (2008). The psychosocial wellbeing of children from Australian military and fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) mining families. Community, Work & Family, 11(3), 297–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kessler, R. C. (1979). Stress, social status, and psychological distress. Journal of Health and Social behavior, 259–272.Google Scholar
  28. Lester, L., Dooley, J., Cross, D., & Shaw, T. (2012). Internalising symptoms: An antecedent or precedent in adolescent peer victimisation. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 22(2), 173–189. doi: 10.1017/jgc.2012.25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mauthner, N. S., Maclean, C., & McKee, L. (2000). ‘My dad hangs out of helicopter doors and takes pictures of oil platforms’: Children’s accounts of parental work in the oil and gas industry. Community Work & Family, 3(2), 133–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McGuinn, I. L. (2003). Adolescents’ perceptions of typical interparental conflict and quality of parenting: A path to depression and aggression. New Haven, CT: Yale University.Google Scholar
  31. Mellor, D. (2005). Normative data for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in Australia. Australian Psychologist, 40(3), 215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Patton, M. Q. (2005). Qualitative research. New York: Wiley Online Library.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Plantin, L., & Danebeck, K. (2009). Parenthood, information and support on the internet. A literature review of research on parents and professionals online. BMC Family Practice. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-10-34.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Rueter, M. A., Conger, R. D., & Ramisetty-Mikler, S. (1999). Assessing the benefits of a parenting skills training program: A theoretical approach to predicting direct and moderating effects. Family Relations, 48(1), 67–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sanders, M. R., Baker, S., & Turner, K. M. T. (2012). A randomised controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of triple P online with parents of children with early-onset conduct problems. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, 675–684.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Slade, T., Grove, R., & Burgess, P. (2011). Kessler psychological distress scale: normative data from the 2007 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45(4), 308–316.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Slee, P., Campbell, M., & Spears, B. (2012). Child, adolescent and family development. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA. (2010–2011). WA Resource Sector. WA, Australia.Google Scholar
  40. Watson, J. A. (2008). Adapting to the offshore lifestyle (Master of Sociology). Perth: Murdoch University.Google Scholar
  41. Wille, D.-P. N., Bettge, S., & Ravens-Sieberer, U. (2008). Risk and protective factors for children’s and adolescents’ mental health: results of the BELLA study. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 17(1), 133–147.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Zwi, M., Jones, H., Thorgaard, C., York, A., & Dennis, J. A. (2011). Parent training interventions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged 5 to 18 years. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003018.pub3.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Promotion Evaluation UnitUniversity of Western AustraliaNedlandsAustralia
  2. 2.University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Telethon Kids InstituteSubiacoAustralia
  4. 4.Child Health Promotion Research CentreEdith Cowan UniversityMt LawleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations