Night shift working mothers and their adolescent children's mutual perception of their relationships
Sizane, Nongazi Florinah
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Night shift or non-standard work continues to grow throughout the economy (Beers, 2000). Women's roles in society are changing as they find themselves having to join the work force due to economic need. South African women most of whom are mothers are no exception in this regard. Many of these mothers are obliged to do night shift work. Sectors like manufacturing and public-oriented industries often use shift work to ensure efficient continuous operation and uninterrupted response to the needs of society. This article aims to explore the role that night shift work plays in the relationships between mothers and their adolescent children; whether the mutual perceptions of night shift working mothers and their adolescent children regarding their relationships differ from those of non-shift working mothers and their adolescent children; and whether there is a difference between the night shift working group and the non-shift working group with regard to the perceptions of their relationships. Lastly, the article aims to determine the reliability of the measuring instrument that was used in this study, namely the Parent-Adolescent-Relationship-Questionnaire (PARQ). Available literature shows that shift work has a negative impact on health, for example stress-related illnesses due to lack of sleep (Akerstedt, 1998, 2003; Fletcher & Dawson, 1997, 2001; Presser, 2005). Family life is also affected and relationship difficulties have been reported (Chang, Wang, & Liu, 1993; Holland, 2004; Grosswald, 2003, 2004; Presser, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2005), while shift work is seen as a threat to family cohesion. Adolescence is a critical developmental stage and mothers have an important role to enhance healthy adolescent development in terms of issues like self-identity and autonomy. The mother's unusual working hours can have a negative impact on the mother-adolescent relationship. A cross-sectional design was used in this study. There were two groups: 35 night shift working mothers and their adolescent children, and 35 non-shift working mothers and their adolescent children. Participants were requested to complete a PARQ questionnaire. Data was analysed by means of SAS and SPSS programmes. Descriptive statistic methods such as central tendency, mean and median, variability, range and standard deviation, skewness and kurtosis were used to explore data. Independent and dependent t-tests were used to determine differences between the mean scores of the night shift working and non-shift working mothers and their adolescent children. The effect size was used to provide an objective measure of a practical effect. The findings indicate that PARQ is a reliable measure for this study as it showed good internal consistency. The skewness and kurtosis indicate acceptable normality. Adolescent children of non-shift working mothers perceive communication with their mothers as more efficient than adolescent children of night shift working mothers, and there is an indication of a significant practical effect. Adolescent children of non-shift working mothers have a more positive perception of the Mothers' Problem Solving than adolescent children of night shift working mothers, with indications of a significant practical effect between the two groups. There is no statistically significant difference between and no significant practical effect in any of the variables concerning the two groups of mothers, as reflected in Table 4. However, Table 5 shows a difference between the perceptions of the two groups of adolescents. There is a statistically significant difference between Cohesion for non-shift working mothers and for their adolescent children, with an indication of a significant practical effect. Tables 5 and 6 show a statistically significant difference between Conventionalisation of the two groups, with an indication of a significant practical effect. Both night shift working and non-shift working mothers have a more positive perception of Conventionalisation than their adolescent children. Findings also indicate a statistically significant difference in Global Distress between night shift working mothers and their adolescent children, with an indication of a significant practical effect. Night shift working mothers experience higher levels of Global Distress than their adolescent children. For both groups -night shift working mothers and their adolescent children; and non-shift working mothers and their adolescent children there is a statistically significant difference between the mothers' and the adolescents' perception of Ruination. This study has several limitations and it is recommended that future studies use a larger sample size and include longitudinal studies. Future research should also explore the construct of the night shift working mother's parenting style and their coping strategies. Father-adolescent relationships should also be a research focus. In some families in both groups, the study created a platform for dialogue between adolescents and their mothers.
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