Workaholic dads linked to sons' aggressive behavior

Published: Monday, Sept. 2 2013 11:59 a.m. MDT

Fathers that put in 55 or more hours weekly at their jobs had sons who exhibited a higher level of aggressive behavior, compared with boys whose dads worked fewer hours.

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Boys who have workaholic fathers are more likely to display aggressive behavior than boys with fathers who have normal work hours.

Researchers from the WZB Berlin Social Science Research Center in Berlin, Germany, collected data from more than 1,300 children in Western Australia. At ages 5, 8, and 10, one parent completed a questionnaire about the child's behavior. Mothers most often completed the questionnaire — between 16 and 20 percent of the Australian fathers in the study worked 55 or more hours a week.

The study, published in the Journal of Family and Marriage, found that boys ages 5 to 10 whose fathers spent 55 hours or more each week at their jobs exhibited a higher level of aggressive behavior, compared with boys whose dads worked fewer hours. Daughters were not as affected by their fathers' workload.

In 2008, the United States Census reported that in 70 percent of two-parent households with children, both parents worked outside the home.

According to the 2011 American Community Survey conducted by the United State Census Bureau, 29 percent of fathers aged 29-44, who lived with their children, clocked in more than 50 hours per week at their job. Only 9 percent of mothers worked more than 50 hours a week, partially due to the majority of mothers preferring to work part-time hours.

"It is possible when fathers work very long hours, children are less well monitored after school, especially if mothers also work full time hours," Dr. Jianghong Li told the DailyMail. "There is some evidence pre-adolescent boys are less well monitored than girls when fathers have high work related demands, including long hours, and as a consequence have more conduct problems."

Earlier this year, Pew Research Center study found that only half of working fathers say they spend enough time with their kids. The same study reported that this is true even as fathers have nearly tripled their time spent with their children since 1965.

Li told the DailyMail that the study should change how public policy looks at fathers spending large amounts of time in the office.

"Instead of focusing on negative effects of mothers' work hours, policy attention should be given to negative consequences of fathers' long work hours for children's emotional well being," Li said.

Email: crenouard@deseretnews.com

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