Generic pic of child left home alone during school holidays when parents have to work. Wider version
Friday 18 September 2009
SHD NEWS Picture by JANIE BARRETT DIGICAM 114112

If parents felt they worked too hard, the children were quick to feel the same thing. Photo: Janie Barrett

ABOUT one in three 10-year-old children say their parents work too hard, and about one-quarter of all parents agree, according to new research by the Australian Institute for Family Studies.

For the first time, researchers asked a large group of children aged 10 to 11 - about 4000 of them - what they thought about their parents' working habits. About 35 per cent of these children thought their fathers worked too much, while 27 per cent said their mothers worked too much.

And if parents felt they worked too hard, the children were quick to feel the same thing.

When fathers told researchers their work made family time less fun, 43 per cent of children said their dads worked too much. It was the same with mothers, with one-third of 10 to 11 year olds saying their mothers worked too hard when their mothers had said work was making family time less fun.

According to institute researcher Dr Jennifer Baxter, the study shows children are very sensitive to their parents' working patterns and stresses.

''They see their parents working long hours and not coming home until late and weekends. Kids notice that and sense that they are missing out on time with their mother or father,'' Dr Baxter said.

Children liked spending time with their parents: 76 per cent of children said they had fun with their families for ''lots of time''. And when parents reported having fun with their kids, their children were also more likely to say it was fun.

Despite the challenges for families of balancing work and family, 67 per cent of mothers and fathers said work had a positive effect on their children, with parents more likely to feel good about working as their children got older.