Opinion & Debate

Published on December 7th, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


How we parent our children affects their work ethic

Interesting study – wonder how – or if – it differs for lone parent families?

Researchers reckon how we parent our children will affect how they subsequently perform at work, and while dads are the most influential, both parents are necessary role models for a child to develop a strong ‘calling’ orientation.

The University of Michigan study also found that participants who were close to their dads were more likely to mimic their career orientation, yet oddly, close relationships with mums during adolescence discouraged a strong job orientation during adulthood.

Professor Wayne Baker from the university’s Ross School of Business said that work orientations are a ‘modern link between the meaning of work for parents and children’ and that ‘socialization during adolescence is the mechanism through which this persistent link is established’.

Processor Baker worked on the research with Kathryn Dekas, a People Analytics Manager at Google. Ms Dekas said that work orientation represents a person’s beliefs about the meaning of work and that research suggested that adults favour one of three primary work orientations: job, career or calling.

“With people working harder than ever and changing jobs more rapidly than in the past, they are interested in understanding why they see their work in a certain way,” she said. “This study suggests the way people see their work is fairly deep-seated, and it is influenced by the way one’s parents saw their work, no matter whether parents and children share the same occupation.”

However, Professor Baker concluded that some outside influences can diminish the parents’ influence on work orientations:

“If you are working in a distressed industry, that tends to swamp the effects of parental influence,” Professor Baker said. “I think it’s hard to think about the higher purpose of your work if you are fearful of losing your job.”



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About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

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