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Research links fathers' job stress, other risk factors to parents' knowledge,,about children's daily experiences

University Park, Pa. --- Keeping up with the kids gets even tougher when fathers' job stress is combined with the additional challenges of dealing with a less than harmonious marriage and an active young son, say Penn State researchers.

On its own, work stress does not necessarily make parents less knowledgeable, but fathers' high job pressure in combination with certain other conditions, might interfere with parents' abilities to stay informed about who their children are spending time with and what they are doing on a daily basis, the research shows.

"The overriding message is that parents need to be knowledgeable about their children's activities, but won't be able to acquire the information on their own," say researchers. "Parents' knowledge of their children's daily activities is not just a matter of tracking or monitoring. Children must reveal information, a two-way process that can be jeopardized by certain circumstances within the family."

Published in the May edition of the national Journal of Marriage and the Family, the findings represent the first wave of data from an on-going project to examine how parents' work affects family life and, in turn, child and adolescent development, particularly the middle childhood years.

The Penn State Family Relationships Project, in the journal article, reports initial findings from a three-year study of approximately 200 working parents and the two oldest children in the family. The older children were either in the fourth or fifth grade.

Middle childhood -- after preschool and before adolescence -- is a crucial period as children increase participation in activities and with peers outside the family. It's a time when parental monitoring becomes more important but direct supervision less feasible, according to Project Co-Directors Ann C. Crouter and Susan M. McHale, both professors of human development, and Matthew F. Bumpus, a doctoral candidat
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Contact: Vicki Fong
vyf1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
6-Jul-1999


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