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Workplace Flexibility and Parent–Child Interactions Among Working Parents in the U.S.

Abstract

Balancing work and caregiving demands is a critical challenge for working parents with young children. Workplace flexibility can serve to promote parent-child interactions by enhancing the coordination of work and family responsibilities. Using longitudinal data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), the study examined three potential sources of workplace flexibility—access to flexible schedules, working from home, and part-time employment—and their associations with the frequency of parent–child interactions (i.e., enrichment activities and daily routines) among parents with young children, with a particular focus on gender, household structures, and income. The results indicated that working from home and part-time employment were associated with more frequent enrichment parent–child interactions for mothers, while flexible schedules were associated with greater daily routine interactions for fathers. The positive associations between working from home and parent–child interactions were more pronounced among low-income mothers than mid- and high-income mothers. Fathers working parttime in dual-earner households more frequently interacted with their children than those in single-earner households. These findings suggest that distinctive types of workplace flexibility may work differently across gender, household structure, and household income.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. The high rates of involuntary part-time work and the accompanying lower earnings and limited work-related benefits suggest that treating part-time employment as synonymous with flexible work arrangements should only be done cautiously (Gornick and Meyers 2003; Morrison and Robbins 2015).

  2. The sample size was rounded to the nearest 50 following the ECLS-B’s confidentiality rules.

  3. In enrichment activities, 4-point scale items were recoded to match 6-point scale items. For example, “once or twice per week” and “3–6 times per week” responses in the 4-point scale items matched with “a few times a month” and “a few times a week” responses in the 6-point scale items, respectively.

  4. The results of the cross-sectional models are not reported in the results section due to space limitations. Generally, the magnitude of the estimates was slightly greater in the cross-sectional models than the LDV models, suggesting that the LDV models further addressed omitted-variable bias.

  5. An indicator identifying how access to each flexibility indicator changed from wave 2 to wave 3 (“no access to flexibility in both waves” = ECLS-B1, “access to flexibility in wave 2 but not wave 3” = 2, “access to flexibility in wave 3 but not wave 2” = 3, “access to flexibility in both waves” = 4) was created and added to the LDV models for mothers and fathers employed in both waves. It should be noted that all of the significant estimates were attributed to the differences between the “no access to flexibility in both waves” and “access to flexibility in both waves” categories. The model results are not reported in the results section to save space.

  6. As all percentages were weighted, the number of cases did not exactly match to the percentage.

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Correspondence to Jaeseung Kim.

Appendix: Multivariate Tables for the Main Associations Between Workplace Flexibility and Parent–child Interactions

Appendix: Multivariate Tables for the Main Associations Between Workplace Flexibility and Parent–child Interactions

See Tables 8 and 9.

Table 8 The association between workplace flexibility and parent–child interactions for mothers
Table 9 The Association between workplace flexibility and parent–child interactions for resident fathers

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Kim, J. Workplace Flexibility and Parent–Child Interactions Among Working Parents in the U.S.. Soc Indic Res 151, 427–469 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-018-2032-y

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Keywords

  • Workplace flexibility
  • Flexible schedules
  • Working from home
  • Gender
  • Working parents
  • Parent–child interactions