This is an interesting finding that further confirms that children need their fathers - or at least a regularly present male figure in their lives. Mothers' work hours did not seem to have the same impact. It's not quite as simple as this (home life, school experience, peer group involvement all play a part), but the researchers found that:
an interaction between father’s work hours and perceptions of time spent with him has one of the most robust associations with bullying for adolescents. When paternal employment is full- or overtime and youth perceive they do not spend enough with their fathers, bullying behavior increases.The point that gets left out, I think, is that it is the perception of the child that makes the difference - what I mean is this: the father could be home all the time and not pay attention at all to their children and a father might work 50+ hours a week and when he is home, he spends as much quality time with his kids as possible. The first child will feel neglected and ignored and act out in some way, while the second child may more likely feel loved and cherished and do just fine with no out-of-the-ordinary acting out.
Bullying Behavior, Parents’ Work Hours and Early Adolescents’ Perceptions of Time Spent With ParentsC. André Christie-Mizell, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org, Department of SociologyJacqueline M. Keil
Mary Therese Laske
This research investigates the relationships among bullying behavior, mother’s and father’s work hours, and early adolescents’ perceptions of whether they spend sufficient time with their parents. In cross-sectional models, we find maternal work hours are modestly associated with increases in bullying behavior. However, in more rigorous change models, our findings indicate that over time maternal work hours bear no direct relationship to bullying behavior. Moreover, in our final models, an interaction between father’s work hours and perceptions of time spent with him has one of the most robust associations with bullying for adolescents. When paternal employment is full- or overtime and youth perceive they do not spend enough with their fathers, bullying behavior increases. Other important factors that shape bullying behavior are the quality of the home environment and the adolescent’s school performance.
Busy fathers, pay attention: a new study finds that if your kids think you’re not spending enough time with them, they’re more likely to exhibit bullying behavior at school. C. Andre Christie-Mizell, Jacqueline M. Keil, Mary Therese Laske and Jennifer Stewart examined both parents’ working hours and children’s perception of time spent with their parents (i.e. do your kids think you work too much?), finding that “it was children’s perception of how much time they spent with their fathers that had the most impact on bullying behavior.” Interestingly, mothers’ working hours didn’t seem to have much of an effect on bullying behaviors. ”The findings about fathers and mothers are important because it turns what most of us think is conventional wisdom — that mothers have the most influence on children — on its ear,” says Christie-Mizell. “What this research shows is that while it’s equally important for kids to spend time with both parents, fathers need to make an extra effort.”
ScienceDaily (Jan. 28, 2011) — Do your children think you work too much and don't spend enough time with them? If so, their perception could lead to bullying behavior, according to research by Vanderbilt University sociologist Andre Christie-Mizell.
"Our behavior is driven by our perception of our world, so if children feel they are not getting enough time and attention from parents then those feelings have to go somewhere and it appears in interaction with their peers," said Christie-Mizell, an associate professor of sociology and licensed psychologist specializing in family therapy and the treatment of children with mood and behavior disorders.
His study, published in the journal Youth & Society, looked at two questions -- "What is the relationship between the number of hours parents work and adolescent bullying behavior?" and "What is the relationship between bullying behavior and youth's perceptions of the amount of time their parents spend with them?"
What Christie-Mizell found is that it was children's perception of how much time they spent with their fathers that had the most impact on bullying behavior.
Christie-Mizell began the research thinking that mothers' work hours -- since mothers overwhelmingly are the ones to care for and monitor children -- would be more likely to have an impact on whether children exhibited bullying behavior such as being cruel to others, being disobedient at school, hanging around kids who get in trouble, having a very strong temper and not being sorry for misbehaving. However, it was when fathers worked full time or overtime and children perceived that they did not spend enough time with their fathers that bullying behavior increased.
Mothers' work hours showed modest to no effect on bullying behavior. Christie-Mizell believes this is because children perceive mothers as being more accessible because they still handle most of the responsibilities at home as caregivers and family managers.
"The findings about fathers and mothers are important because it turns what most of us think is conventional wisdom -- that mothers have the most influence on children -- on its ear. What this research shows is that while it's equally important for kids to spend time with both parents, fathers need to make an extra effort," he said.
His suggestion is to set up a schedule for parent-child interaction in order to guide children's perceptions -- so, for example, a child knows that every Saturday morning he or she is going to have breakfast or play ball with Dad. Christie-Mizell says the interaction has to be purposeful so children know they will have this time, rather than the random, last-minute trip with Dad to the grocery store.
"Children need to know they have this scheduled time and it's important for fathers to try to keep to the schedule as much as possible. If fathers have to miss, then it's also important that they explain to the child why they have to miss their scheduled time and how what they are doing instead affects their family," he said.
Christie-Mizell studied the behavior and perceptions of 687 children who were 10 to 14 years old and living in two-parent homes in 2000. He measured their bullying behavior using a scale based on the Behavior Problem Index (BPI), a 28-item scale designed to assess typical childhood behavior syndromes. He also looked at their parents' work hours, with about 40 percent of the mothers and 47 percent of their spouses/partners working full-time -- on average 35 to 40 hours per week -- and 15 percent of mothers and 50 percent of their spouses/partners working overtime -- more than 40 hours per week.