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Positive Psychology on Working Remotely and Parenting

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Positive Psychology on Working Remotely and Parenting
06.06.2019
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Introduction

Working from home also known, as telecommuting or telework, becomes an increasingly common practice (Bloom, Liang, Roberts, & Ying, 2015). From an economic perspective, not only does working from home raise productivity but it also increases profitability for companies. Secondly, working from home has been noted as one of the ways of dealing with deteriorating work-life balance, especially in families where couples have children. According to the Council of Economic Advisors (2014), the number of households where couples with children were working increased from 40 % in the year 1970 to 62 % in the year 2012. As more pressure mounts on parents to work, this paper examines who between couples with children but working from home and couples with children who work from their conventional workplace was happier.

Most of the current companies still have work arrangements that were copied from the age of the industrial revolution. During the industrial age, the transaction of employees with their employers was based on time. Therefore, time was often bound to a task assigned as well as place. In their study, Harrison, Johns, and Martocchio (2000) noted that in the past few decades, the revolution of information had occurred, thus employers were compelled to unbind task and time from one place. They observe that it is now possible to have common and synchronous activities being distributed to the employees in remote locations by using digital technologies. The decentralized work arrangements have been used as a means of meeting household needs as well as family demands.

It is notable that investigations on the effects of flexible work locations started seriously more than 30 years ago (Ramsower, 1983). Ramsower notes that the term distributed work has been used in recent studies to encompass all forms of telecommuting. On the other hand, Belanger and Collins (1998) define it as an arrangement, in which employees are allowed to share tasks from different settings away from a common physical organization location. In the United States, for instance, the percentage of employees who mostly work from their homes tripled from 0.75% in 1980 to 2.4% in 2010 (Mateyka, Rapino & Landivar, 2012). Outside the United States, working from home appears to be common as well. It is true, therefore, that the continued rise in the popularity of telecommuting could be due to clear benefits or positive outcomes.

At an individual level, working from home has been associated with improved work-life balance, boosted morale as well as increased productivity. Unfortunately, some scholars have criticized the claims of positive outcomes arguing that they are not based on consistent findings or that some of the findings are based on studies that are methodologically weak as well as unconvincing theories (Belanger & Collins, 1998). Furthermore, it has been argued that those who work from home are likely to experience career stagnation, family conflict, and social isolation (Belanger & Collins, 1998). Therefore, even though telecommuting seems to be gaining more importance or spreading quickly, there are still myths and possible misconceptions surrounding it that the paper seeks to answer.

Nurturing relationships between children and their parents enable children to thrive. It is true that raising children and building a career can both be hard. Careers and children collide because of the overlap of career setting years and childbearing ones. However, it has to be noted that a child’s early years often form a lifetime base. First relationships that children form with their parents are foundational.

To begin with, parents play a significant role in promoting a child’s cognitive, social-emotional, language as well as emotional development in their young children. They strengthen a child’s development by taking an active role in early development before and after the birth of a child. Lamb (2010) considers child development as a complex social system that varies from one family to the other. For instance, fathers get involved in raising children in a number of ways, including being nearby whenever the child explores the world around, playing with the child as well as taking the child for medical checkups. Indeed, Levy Vygotsky introduced the socio-cultural theory that states that children learn well through hands-on experiences, so parents have a role to play in the child’s development (“Basic Theories”, 2014). Children learn best when new information is introduced to them. This area of cognitive development was referred to as the Zone of Proximal Development. Undoubtedly, children, particularly those of parents working from home and who are able to get quality time from their parents, are likely to learn a great deal of new information from their parents. They have an advantage as compared to the children of couples who work in the offices and who rarely find quality time with their parents.

Regarding social-emotional development, it is reported that in primary care, parents provide their children with emotional security. Family Child Care Academy records that in the Ecological Systems theory developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, the nuclear family influences a child’s emotional development most of all because of the first attachment with the parents or caregivers (“Basic Theories”, 2014). The more a child is closer or the more he/she spends quality time with the parents, the more the child becomes closely attached to the parents. In such a case, a child becomes emotionally strong. This theory compares with the socio-cultural theory because it also explains the important roles that parents play in the development of a child. However, the contrast is that Urie’s theory is ecological while Levy’s theory is socio-cultural. Apparently, children who grow according to the teachings of their parents bring happiness, while those that do not receive the right teachings, perhaps because their parents spend less time with them, do not bring happiness. Parent involvement may boost a child’s behavior at home as well as in the classroom. This happens when parents and teachers work together in a bid to deal with problem behaviors and social functioning (El-Nokali, Bachman, & Votruba-Drzal, 2010). Children who do not have conduct problems are likely to have fewer problems with their parents than others. Thus, such children are bound to bring happiness to their parents. However, children who interact less with their parents who are mostly away during the day are likely to have conduct problems. Such children cannot bring happiness into the lives of their parents. Therefore, unlike parents who work away in the office during the day, parents who work at home are likely to have more time with the children and help them (the children) to build good conduct characters. When parents treat their infants with affection, the children develop a secure attachment. Children who spend quality time with their parents are reported to have high self-esteem, social competence, confidence as well as life skills (Dubowitz et al., 2001). Moreover, fathers who are involved in the lives of their children before the age of 7 help the child to adjust psychologically during the teen years.

It is recorded that parents who involve themselves in their children’s early activities, which are intellectually stimulating activities, caregiving activities, and physical care, enhance cognitive ability of the children as well as their exploration of objects purposefully (Bronte-Tinker, Carrano, Horowitz, & Kinukawa, 2008). Fathers often play one-on-one, rough and tumble games with their children. This helps to promote motor development while the children also get the opportunity to explore what they can do with their bodies and learn to regulate emotions by taking part in wild physical contact.

Positive associations have between parent involvement and a child’s academic success has been shown severally in previous studies (El-Nokali, Bachman, & Votruba-Drzal, 2010). In contrast, parents who work in conventional offices may not find adequate time to get involved in academic activities of their children. Most parents leave early for work and return late in the evening. When the parents return from work, they may not have adequate time to assist the children with their academic work. The children may end up being less motivated, not being able to persist in performing tasks and being less receptive to vocabulary. Parents of such children may end up being unhappy with their children. A study has also been done to examine parent involvement in children’s social and academic development in elementary school. In this study, El-Nokali et al. (2010) have found out that higher parent involvement, particularly mothers and teachers, promoted better social skills, average achievement at school and fewer cases of problem behaviors.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that with the advancement in information and communication, more people resort to working remotely from their homes rather than from the conventional offices. When parents work from their homes, they get the opportunity to interact with their children more. On the other hand, parents who work in offices away from their homes may get less time to interact with their children. Children who interact more with their parents have been reported to have improved cognitive, social-emotional, language as well as emotional skills. Thus, parents continue to have a substantial influence on children’s development not only at home but in school as well. Moreover, children who spend quality time with their parents and develop positive behaviors bring happiness. In contrast, children who interact less with their parents may not develop important skills. Consequently, such children may make their parents unhappy which may be caused by their behaviors.

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