Families and the First Job

Project Directors: Shelley MacDermid, PhD
Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Associates: Cathy Flynn, PhD
Rona Schwarz, PhD

Doctoral Students: Cheryl Caron, Boston College
Abigail Christiansen, Purdue University
Ashley Harvey, Purdue University
Marcia Cone-Tighe, Boston College
John Orwatt, Brandeis University
Kathy Rooney, Boston College
Becke Sero-Lynn, Purdue University
Andrew Behnke, Purdue University

Master’s Degree Students: Tina Matz, Boston College
Karen Severns, Boston College

Undergraduate Students: Cindy Smith, Purdue University
Kristi Staley, Purdue University
Jack Liu, Purdue University
Toby Stephenson, Purdue University
Macarena LeCaros, Purdue University

Term of Project: Undetermined

Description: Four communities were recruited into the study.

Rhode Island Community: Recruitment materials (including follow-up notices) were distributed to students in the town’s middle school during winter and spring 2002. Nearly 40 families scheduled appointments for interviews; however, the study drop-out rate was high (approximately 50%), so that only 21 interviews were completed before the end of the school year. Most of the adults in these 21 families participated in the ESM sub-study, and a majority gave permission for the research team to contact the human resources department at their workplaces to gather organizational information. Interviews were conducted with key informants as part of the community study. Additional recruitment packages were distributed to incoming sixth graders during the first week of the 2002-03 school year. Additional interviews were scheduled during fall 2002.

Indiana Community No. 1: Recruitment materials (including follow-up notices) were distributed to students in the town’s middle school during winter and spring 2002. A total of 22 families have completed data collection; we encountered an unexpectedly high percentage of single-earner families. The school was also quite small, with only 300 students. Recruitment continued the following fall with the new seventh grade students.

North Carolina Community: Recruitment packages (n = 970) were distributed in a New Urbanist neighborhood during the third week of August 2002. Approximately 100 forms were returned, with 10 families eligible and interested in participating. The first interviews in this community were scheduled during October. In October, Pitt-Catsouphes met with school administrators to explore the possibility of distributing recruitment packages to families of the middle school that serves the New Urbanist neighborhood, as well as other sections of town.

Indiana Community No. 2: Recruitment materials were distributed to students and all homeroom classrooms in September. Twelve families signed up. All data collection materials were translated into Spanish, and special recruitment activities were designed to recruit minority families.

Primary Research Questions: The study focused on the folllowing research questions

  1. What do employed mothers and fathers see as the content and meaning of the work they do to promote the well-being of their families and contribute to the greater good of society?
  2. What are the relationships between different social settings (workplaces, residential communities, children’s schools) and parents’ perceptions of the work they do to promote the well-being of their families and contribute to the greater good of society?
  3. How do mothers and fathers view the different roles and responsibilities associated with being working parents?
  4. What strategies and tactics do parents of middle school-age children use to manage their work and family responsibilities? What resources, such as benefits at the workplace or programs at their children’s schools, do mothers and fathers use? On a day-to-day basis, what do working parents do to take care of their families?

Evidence of Impact: The following research has either been published or is in the process of being published as a result of this project.

Refereed Journal Articles:

Pitt-Catsouphes, M., Matz, C., & MacDermid, S. M. (accepted). HRD responses to work-family stressors. Forthcoming, Advancing Developments in Human Resources.

Pitt-Catsouphes, M., MacDermid, S. M., Schwarz, R. & Matz, C. (2006). Community contexts: The perspectives and adaptations of working parents. American Behavioral Scientist, 49, 1-22.

Chapters:

MacDermid, S. M. & Harvey, A. (2005). Work and family: What are the connections? In M. Pitt-Catsouphes, E. E. Kossek, & S. Sweet (Eds.), Handbook of work and family: Multidisciplinary perspectives and approaches (pp. 567-586). Mahway, NJ: Erlbaum.

MacDermid, S. M. (2004). (Re)considering conflict between work and family. In E. E. Kossek & S. Lambert (Eds.), Work and life integration in organizations: New directions for theory and practice (pp. 19-40). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Invited Presentations at National or International Research Conferences:

MacDermid, S. M. (2005, November). Reflections on multiple meanings of work and family. Plenary remarks at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Phoenix, Arizona.

MacDermid, S. M. (2004, February). Policies to support work and family: At home, at work, in the community and in the society. Presentation at “Sustainable Careers: New Options for a New Workforce: An Interdisciplinary and International Research and Policy Forum,” New York, New York.

Pitt-Catsouphes, M. & MacDermid, S. M., with Christiansen, A. T., Cone-Tighe, M., Dobbins, J., Flynn, C., Harvey, A., Matz, C., Schwarz, R., & Severns, K. (2003, February). Community responsiveness to the needs of working families. Plenary address at “From 9-to-5 to 24/7: How Workplace Changes Impact Families, Work, and Communities,” an academic research conference sponsored by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and the Community, Families and Work program at Brandeis University, Orlando, Florida.

Pitt-Catsouphes, M. with MacDermid., S., & Schwarz, R. (2003, June). Community contexts: The perceptions and adaptations of working parents. Presented at Workforce/workplace Mismatch: Work, Family, Health, and Well-Being, a conference sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Population Research Center of the University of Maryland.

MacDermid, S. M., Flynn, C., & Pitt-Catsouphes, M. (2002, April). Difficulty and ease in the daily lives of employed parents. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Council on Contemporary Families, New York, New York.

Refereed Presentations:

Ramadoss, K., Schwarz, R., Ruprecht, K. M., MacDermid, S. M., & Pitt-Catsouphes, M. (2007, April). Children’s perceptions of their parents’ work: Do parents’ job characteristics and support in the workplace matter? Presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, Massachusetts.

Christiansen, A., & MacDermid, S. M. (2006, November). Support and interference in the daily lives of employed spouses. Presentation at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Harvey, A. M., & MacDermid, S. M. (2006, November). Couple agreement and disagreement regarding attitudes towards breadwinning. Presentation at the meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Ramadoss, K., MacDermid, S. M., Flynn, C., & Pitt-Catsouphes, M. (2005, November). Generativity in a community context. Presentation at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Phoenix, Arizona.

Pitt-Catsouphes, M., MacDermid, S. M., & Schwarz, R. (2005, March). Community, work, and family: Change and transformation. Presentation at international conference “Community Context: The Perspectives and Adaptations of Working Parents,” Manchester, United Kingdom.

MacDermid, S. M. & Pitt-Catsouphes, M. (2004, November). Role balance: What is it and what is it not? Presentation at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Orlando, Florida. Part of a symposium “Exploring Role Balance,” by Flynn, C., MacDermid, S. M., & Pitt-Catsouphes, M.

Harvey, A. & MacDermid, S. M. (2004, November). Role balance and role hierarchy. Presentation at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Orlando, Florida. Part of a symposium “Exploring Role Balance,” by Flynn, C., MacDermid, S. M., & Pitt-Catsouphes, M.

MacDermid, S. M. Pitt-Catsouphes, M., Christiansen, A., Harvey, A., Cone-Tighe, M., & Schwarz, R. (2003). When work and family collide: A replication and extension of Greenhaus and Powell. Presentation at “From 9-to-5 to 24/7: How Workplace Changes Impact Families, Work, and Communities,” An academic research conference sponsored by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and the Community, Families, and Work Program at Brandeis University, Orlando, Florida.

Doctoral Dissertations:

Tang, Chiung Ya. (2006, September). The Relationships between marital commitment and housework.

Harvey, Ashley. (2005, November). Couple agreement and disagreement regarding attitudes towards breadwinning: Implications for marital well-being. (Currently adjunct professor at Colorado State University)

Master’s Degree Theses:

Schultheis, Mary. (2007, March). Work benefits and father involvement.

Vaught, Kate G. (2006, October). The relationship between role balance and marital quality as moderated by conflict resolution styles. (Currently an Extension educator in Kentucky)

Tolhurst Christensen, Abigail. (2004, April). Nonstandard work schedules and marital quality. Co-chair with Douglas Sprenkle. (2004 Beulah Gillaspie Outstanding Master’s Student Award. Currently a doctoral student at Purdue University; 2005 Gladys Vail Scholarship)