Lawyers, police officers, and politicians, along with receptionists and salespeople, are more susceptible than others to being viewed as bad parents, a new study at the University of Iowa has found. These professions are widely seen as "aggressive, weak, or impersonal," which many people then assume translates to poor parenting skills.
Mark Walker, one of the study's researchers and a doctoral student in sociology, said in a statement that the study wanted to determine "the extent to which discrepancy between the cultural meanings of a person's occupational and parental identities could impact the psychological well-being of working parents." Walker presented the study at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting over the weekend.
In addition to finding negative perceptions toward professions in the legal and political fields, the study found that negative societal response can heighten working parents' stress levels. "Those parents are always swimming upstream trying to convince people they are, for example, a legitimate parent or a legitimate attorney," Walker said.
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Walker hopes the study will inspire people in these fields to lower stress for their workers, as well as to inspire them to be good parents. "Identifying the issue as a social problem rather than an individual one, or even worse, an imaginary problem, could be helpful to working parents in and of itself," Walker said.
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