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30-11-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2020

Child Chronic Illness and Parent Work-Family Conflict: Investigating the Experiences of Working Parents

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2020
Antonia M. Kish, Divna M. Haslam, Peter A. Newcombe
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Parents play a pivotal role in helping children manage their chronic illness, consequently taking on multiple roles. In such circumstances, parent inter-role conflict can impact parent and child aspects and outcomes (e.g., well-being). This study aimed to examine the work-family interface for parents of children with diabetes, asthma or eczema, by exploring their experiences in comparison to those of parents with children without chronic illness and those with diverse chronic conditions.


Semi-structured interviews with fifteen working mothers (M age = 38.20 years; SD = 0.91) of children with diabetes, asthma or eczema were conducted.


From these interviews, four key themes were identified: (a) parent impact, (b) child wellbeing and development, (c) support, flexibility and understanding, and (d) broader impact. Mothers experienced conflict between work and family roles similar to that evidenced in past research. But unique to these parents is their ongoing carer role (e.g., not meeting the care needs of their child). Family impacted their work in various ways (e.g., sacrifice career opportunities), with impacts because of their carer role (e.g., taking more time off work) also illustrated. For these parents, the importance of support (e.g., from workplaces, family) is highlighted, as this alleviated the challenges and subsequent impacts experienced.


More research is proposed to investigate the added demands faced by these parents, by quantifying these demands, given their importance in determining work-family conflict. As this study provides very preliminary findings, further research is required to address several of the limitations discussed.

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