How do Families Best Balance Work and Family?

What coping strategies do families use in order to maintain work-family balance?

What coping strategies do families use in order to maintain work-family balance?

Dual earning family households face difficultly maintaining a work-life-family balance, but as this situation becomes increasingly common what strategies do families employ to deal with the challenges?

New research aimed to provide insight into how dual earning families cope:

This work constitutes an attempt to tackle these gaps by focusing on the specific strategies that dual-earner families use to manage their work and family responsibilities, and how these work-family strategies associate to work-family conflict and work-family enrichment.

The research specifically aimed to consider:

(1) how work and family coping strategies associated with work-family conflict and enrichment

(2) how couples interact in the enactment of these strategies

(3) to establish the role of partner’s coping strategies on work-family conflict and on work-family enrichment.

The researchers from the Center for Psychology at University of Porto, Portugal conducted experiments in order to consider these 3 ideas and found some interesting results:

Regarding enrichment, our findings also confirm past research that holding a positive attitude towards multiple roles (cognitive reappraisal) increases enrichment levels

In sum, women seem to be better off if they perceive themselves as self-sufficient, they do not need external support and do not count on their partner’s individual skills

Interestingly the authors of the research found that these issues are still contained within gender issues:

Our results suggest that, although the attempt to balance work and family is fundamentally a dyadic task, if adjustments are to be made, women are still the ones expected to do them and most of our findings can be understood using a gender role ideology approach.

Despite the strong involvement of women in the labour force and despite gender equality policies, representations of women’s and men’s roles still shape work-family dynamics. (Matias & Fontaine, 2015)

Despite this the authors concluded by discussing an important coping strategy that emerged from the study:

the most important coping strategy is to have a positive outlook regarding multiple roles.