Study shows when juggling work and family, moms offer more emotional support than dads

By May 9, 2019Community

Do you need a hug or someone to talk to after a hard day at school? A new study suggests you might have better luck with mom than with dad.

The study led by SFU Beedie professor Lieke ten Brummelhuis has revealed that under the pressures of juggling work and family responsibilities, moms are better at offering emotional support to those around them than dads regardless of what else is going on.

As demands for families continue to grow, it’s no longer common to see either parent specialized as the breadwinner or homemaker in the home. With both spouses involved in paid work as well as care for children, elderly relatives and the home, we are beginning to learn more about how stress from playing both roles is impacting the relationships at home and work for both parents.

“Although juggling work and family roles is good for many reasons, it comes with challenges,” says ten Brummelhuis. “Role jugglers often get the core tasks done at home and at work, but there is not always room for giving that extra bit of attention to a colleague or a family member. Being there for co-workers and family members, by listening to them or showing concern, helps maintaining rewarding relationships with others.”

For the study, published in Journal of Applied Psychology, ten Brummelhuis and researchers at other institutions conducted two studies that surveyed dual income families. The first study analyzed how work life might impact the level of emotional support the participants provided to their spouses when they arrived home. The second study analyzed how home life might impact how much emotional support the participants provided to their colleagues when they arrived to work.

Their findings from both studies suggest that moms, regardless of how demanding their home and work roles are, do not reduce the amount of emotional support they give to the people around them. In addition, moms tend to pass on the emotional support they receive in one role by giving more emotional support in another role.

In addition, their findings suggest that when men are having a tough day at work or are having problems at home it negatively impacts their capacity to provide emotional support to those around them. 

“When it comes to providing emotional support, it does seem that working moms are on the ball, and make sure that they are there for others as much as they can.”