The average human being has myriad of activities that s/he engages in, spanning across the different areas of endeavour: family, work, business, social circle, religion, personal development, recreation and so forth. These often compete for attention and priority, and bombard him with enormous pressure. Inability to manage them properly generates role conflict for you as a parent, with parenting roles as well as other obligations to fulfil in the other spheres of life. It also produces fertile ground for conflict between the work-family spheres. Physical and mental stress, operational inefficiency, decline in productivity, diminished sense of fulfilment and happiness, and poor health outcomes are the major manifestations of poor work-life balance.
Work-life balance can be basically described as “the effectiveness with which one manages his/her life”. It means ‘unity of life’ – the ability to, process or state of harmonizing the different departments of your life, while minimizing the odds for optimum outcomes. Work-life balance is just good for everybody: individual, employer, employee, wife, husband, mother, father, and child. “Why?”, you may ask. It ensures that no one or thing suffers. It helps to produce a win-win for the various activities that one engages in, and ultimately, a happy life.
Work-life Un-balance, on the other hand, is frustrating and energy sapping. If not tamed, it could result in mental crisis for the individual with multiplier impact on people under his/her sphere of influence. In a 2018 study, Harvard Business review, for instance, reported that work alone has the tendency of impairing quality parenting, through stress, time at work, telecommuting, digital distractions (see: https://hbr.org/2018/11/how-our-careers-affect-our-children). In this piece, we shall highlight the effects of poor parental work-family balance on the child’s well-being, development and overall life outcomes. These are enumerated as follows:
- An unbalanced work-life system saps the best of “parenting energy”. It characterizes your parenting endeavors with fatigue, frustration and aggression, all of which defeat the aim of quality parenting and child upbringing.
- Unbalance within a parent’s life means that the child, alongside every other person under the influence of such a parent will suffer some neglect and whatever other implications that that this may have. With this, the warmth that should characterise the home environment tends to be lost.
- Inadequate parental attention does not communicate love for the child. It, rather, suggests to the child that s/he is of low importance. This may similarly affect your own worth in the eyes of the child, and the love that s/he can have for you.
- You can not communicate good example for, especially when s/he has come to have in his/her life, persons who accord her importance by giving her proper attention
- Being a child already allows for some vulnerability. The attention and affection that an un-balanced life robs your child further makes him/her vulnerable to exploitation, bad influences and societal pressure generally. You actually may be losing your child.
- An un-balanced life affects holistic formation, including academic, spiritual and moral competences of the child. This would have serious effects on self-esteem, academic performance and decision-making abilities of the child.
- An unbalanced life similarly renders the home environment toxic; unfavourable for the development of balanced children. Additionally, the child is also likely to grow into an unorganized person.
- Improper harmonizing of your life as a parent affects your longevity. The inability to live long as a parent may make your child an orphan, and affects his overall life outcomes.
The causes of these problems are well under control; they can be effectively managed and changed using appropriate knowledge, skills and strategies. The HBR report cited above, for instance, revealed that children’s emotional health is higher when parents put family first, regardless of the amount of time they spent working. This is possible, even in African and Nigerian environments.
Work-life balance is one of our offerings at the Institute for Work and Family integration (http://iwfionline.org/), through which we promote better families, businesses and societies. We build capacity by equipping clients with knowledge, skills and strategies to help you harmonize the competing departments of your life. Beyond the child and the family, a well integrated life also has benefits for workplace productivity. An integrated life produces happiness for the person. Happy employees make a happy workforce. A happy workforce allows for optimum productivity.