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When Parents Feel In Control At Work, It's Better For Kids' Health

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A healthy work/life balance is something every parent strives for. We all know that having a workplace that values your home life as much as it does your work not only makes you enjoy your time at work more, but it makes you a better employee and a better parent. Finding that balance isn't always easy for everyone, but a new study is showing that the effects of parents who feel more in control of their work environment shows in their child's health at home.

Researchers out of the University of Houston recently looked at the effect a parents work life has on their children, and the results aren't all that surprising. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology the researchers found that when a parent felt more in control in their work environment, their child's health was better and less negatively effected.

"If you can decide how you are going to do your job, rather than having that imposed on you, it is better for children," said co-author Christiane Spitzmueller, professor of industrial organizational psychology at the University of Houston. This makes sense for any parent who has ever had anxiety over having to call in sick to work to care for their child, or for anyone who has ever stressed over having to leave work early to get their child to an appointment. The study shows that parents who are feeling stressful at work may bring that stress in to their home environment, where it can potentially have negative effects on their children's health.

Science Daily writes that the study looked at two groups of families from Lagos, Nigeria; one lower income and one higher income. Teenagers in the family were asked to assess their own health through a survey they were asked to complete. Spitzmueller was somewhat surprised to learn that income didn't play a very big part in the outcome of the study. "Economic resources were not as much of a buffer as we would have thought," she said. Instead, it was the amount of autonomy in the workplace a parent had that made the most difference.

"If a parent has too many stressors, it reduces your self-control," Spitzmueller said. Parents who are coming home stressed out about their jobs are more likely to bring that stress home than those who have more control at work. "At lower levels of job autonomy," the study states, "employees likely have to rely more on self-regulatory resources to compensate for the impact of limited control over one's job on one's personal life. At higher levels of job autonomy, freedom and more decision-making opportunities are likely to motivate the person to engage; however, self-regulatory resources would be less needed."

Obviously this isn't an option for everyone, but Spitzmueller says the study shows that how much control you have at  work can definitely contribute to a healthier home life for your children. "If you can decide how you are going to do your job, rather than having that imposed on you, it is better for children. "

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