'Tag-Team' Parents Better Than 9 To 5 Parents

Dec 30, 2013

NC State researchers take a closer look at the down side of having two "9 to 5" working parents.
Credit hellobeautiful.com

“Tag-Team” parenting with non-traditional work schedules can be best for raising teenagers, according to new research out of North Carolina State University.

Joshua Hendrix is a doctoral student in Sociology at NC State and lead author of the article "Parental Nonstandard Work, Family Processes and Delinquency During Adolescence," published online in the Journal of Family Issues.

"We were maybe surprised by a few of the findings specifically that, when both parents work '9 to 5' schedules, this is not necessarily the optimal household arrangement for children. So, that is an interesting, surprising finding," said Hendrix.

Hendrix says after evaluating household work arrangements and delinquency among a national sample of nearly 2,000, 10 to 17 year olds, he found that "tag team" parenting is best.  That's when one parent has a work schedule that allows him or her to be available to cover unstructured time.

Toby Parcel is a professor of Sociology at NC State.  She says when there is unstructured time afterschool, it can lead to delinquent behavior, like vandalism, hurting others, theft and skipping school.  Parcel says single mother households have the toughest time.

“The challenge that single mother households, who work these non-standard schedules, the challenge that those households face, both in terms of higher levels of delinquent behavior and weaker bonds with children.  That was not surprising, but very sobering and very relevant," said Parcel.

Hendrix says a lot of earlier "work and family" research looked at the effects of working parents on younger, elementary school age children, not teenagers where there is a higher risk of delinquent behavior.  The NC State research evaluated two-parent, "9 to 5" working households, households where one parent worked a standard schedule and one worked a nonstandard schedule, and households where both parents worked nonstandard, non "9 to 5" schedules.  The research also included the standard and nonstandard work patterns of single mothers.