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Parenting Adolescents: Developing Strategies for FIFO Parents

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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.

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Correspondence to Leanne Lester.

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Lester, L., Waters, S., Spears, B. et al. Parenting Adolescents: Developing Strategies for FIFO Parents. J Child Fam Stud 24, 3757–3766 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-015-0183-x

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Keywords

  • Parenting
  • Adolescence
  • Fly-in/fly-out
  • FIFO