Higher Parenting Stress for Dads Working from Home During Pandemic

November 03, 2023

Fathers who worked remotely were more than twice as likely to report higher parenting stress compared to fathers who worked onsite

A survey from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago found that 40 percent of parents who worked remotely during the pandemic reported higher parenting stress compared with only 27 percent of parents who worked onsite.

Results revealed a gender difference – fathers who worked from home were twice as likely to report that parenting was stressful all or most of the time compared to fathers who worked onsite. Parenting stress for mothers who worked at home was slightly higher, but it did not reach statistical significance.

The study found no differences in mental or general health between parents who worked remotely or onsite.

“Our survey results show that teleworking during the pandemic was associated with more parenting stress, especially for fathers,” said lead author John James Parker, MD, a pediatrician at Lurie Children’s, an internist at Northwestern Medicine and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This might be a reflection of societal expectations that men should prioritize work obligations over family needs, which creates additional stress for fathers working from home. We recommend that parents reflect on their family and work situation and try to find an arrangement that limits stress and promotes wellbeing. This can be as simple as putting a noise cancelling machine in the workspace, rearranging schedules to limit distractions and planning time for parents to step away from work to be fully engaged with their children.

The survey included 1,060 parents from all 77 neighborhoods in Chicago. The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

“Employers could provide support to fathers by offering more flexibility and recognizing that both parents need more work/life balance. Employers also could encourage parents who work from home, especially men, to take advantage of employee assistance programs if they are experiencing high levels of stress,” added Dr. Parker. “This is important, since parents’ stress is linked to negative parental health and child developmental outcomes.”

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is a nonprofit organization committed to providing access to exceptional care for every child. It is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Lurie Children’s is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.