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Kent State Professor Examines Link Between Parental Time Pressure and Depression

Posted Apr. 23, 2012
enter photo description
Kent State Associate Professor Susan
Roxburgh
examined the association between
depression and parental time pressures among
employed married parents.

A recently published paper by Kent State University Associate Professor Susan Roxburgh examines the association between depression and parental time pressures among employed married parents.

Roxburgh is a sociologist who has been with Kent State since 1994. The Journal of Family Issues published her paper “Parental Time Pressures and Depression Among Married Dual-Earner Parents” in its most recent issue (November, 2011).

In a telephone survey of 250 parents, Roxburgh finds that concerns about having enough time to spend with children are associated with higher depression among both fathers and mothers. Her research also reveals that job experiences play a role in influencing the link between parental time pressure and depression. Parents who report high job demands feel more parental time pressure, which in turn increases their depression.

“Even though other research shows that American parents are actually spending more time with their children than they were 20 years ago, the results of this survey shows that parents worry about the time they spend with their children and that these concerns are associated with higher depression,” Roxburgh says. “We have very high expectations for parents, and many people may worry that they are not living up to these expectations.”

The study also finds that mothers who report high job control are less likely to be depressed by parental time pressures. This relationship is not observed among fathers, which suggests that good working conditions may be particularly important for employed mothers’ well-being. 

Roxburgh reports that social support from partners does not reduce the association between time pressure and depression among parents, but household income is a significant moderator of the depression-parental time pressure link. This means that irrespective of marital quality, parental time pressures are associated with higher depression, but that affluent mothers and fathers who report high parental time pressure experience less depression than low-income mothers and fathers.

Even as other studies show that American parents, particularly fathers, are spending more time with their children, the results of this study indicate that concerns about the amount and quality of time with children is a significant source of stress for working parents, especially those in low-paying, high-demand jobs.  

“On the one hand, these findings are consistent with other studies that report that fathers expect to be actively involved in their fathering role,” Roxburgh says. “On the other hand, this study also suggests that there is growing pressure on parents to live up to this ideal of being a very engaged and involved parent and that this stress is associated with higher depression, especially among less well-off parents.”

Roxburgh’s paper can be viewed online at
http://jfi.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/11/08/0192513X11425324.abstract.