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17-03-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2017

Bringing Work Home: Gender and Parenting Correlates of Work-Family Guilt among Parents of Toddlers

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2017
Jessica L. Borelli, S. Katherine Nelson-Coffey, Laura M. River, Sarah A. Birken, Corinne Moss-Racusin
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10826-017-0693-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Anecdotal evidence abounds suggesting that as compared to fathers, mothers report greater guilt regarding the negative impact of work on family (WIF-guilt), yet shockingly few quantitative studies have evaluated gender differences or correlates of WIF-guilt. In five studies, we provide an in-depth exploration of parents’ feelings of guilt regarding perceived negative impacts on their children that arise from addressing work over familial responsibilities. We accomplish the following: (1) examine the validity of a novel self-report questionnaire of WIF-guilt (Work-Interfering-With-Family Guilt Scale [WIFGS]), (2) assess gender differences in WIF-guilt in parents of young children (ages 1–3), as well as whether these differences are moderated by WIF-conflict and work demand (number of hours worked), and (3) examine whether higher WIF-guilt predicts more permissive parenting. WIFGS scores were predictably associated with related psychological constructs. Mothers reported significantly higher levels of WIF-guilt than fathers. These effects were enhanced among mothers with high WIF-conflict and a high number of working hours. Consistent with anecdotal accounts and theory, WIF-guilt was associated with higher parenting permissiveness. Results provide directions for additional research on parents’ emotional experiences.

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