Christiane Spitzmueller, Ph.D. Professor, Psychology Industrial Organizational Psychology University of Houston

Teenagers’ Health Impacted by Parental Stress from Work Interview with:

Christiane Spitzmueller, Ph.D. Professor, Psychology Industrial Organizational Psychology University of Houston

Dr. Spitzmueller

Christiane Spitzmueller, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology
Industrial Organizational Psychology
University of Houston What is the background for this study?  

Response: We generally conduct research on how parents’ work experiences affect the health and well-being of family systems. Many families struggle to successfully reconcile work and family demands, and we were wondering what specific work experiences were most likely to relate to negative outcomes for children. We also wanted to know how the impact of parents’ stressful work experiences’ with the happiness and health of their children could be addressed. Hence the study! What are the main findings? 

Response: We conducted two studies, and found that parents’ feelings of their work affecting their family lives negatively (or their work-family conflict) negatively related to their teenage kids’ health (as reported by the child).

Interestingly, our study also shows that employers can take proactive steps to ensure parents work stressors do not affect their kids’ health negatively. For instance, employers can provide employees with control and autonomy at work (instead of micro-managing employees), which our study shows results in better outcomes. Our studies also show why parents’ work stressors can result in negative health outcomes for kids – parents who experience high levels of work stressors are less likely to have sufficient self-control to engage in positive parenting behaviors when they get home, explaining the relationships between work stressors and child health. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Parental work experiences matter, not only for their own health and well-being, but also for that of their children. In other words, this research further shows how within families there are nuanced connections between what one family member experiences and how they interact with the remainder of the family as a result of those experiences. For employers and HR professionals, our study further emphasizes how giving employees as much control as possible over their schedules and over how they do their work has positive outcomes: This is well documented for employees, but our research shows that it holds even when it comes to family members. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: In our subsequent research, we are interested in investigating what exact parenting behaviors play a role in explaining why and how work stressors relate to outcomes – what are stressed parents less or more likely do at home that may result in negative outcomes?


Ohu, E. A., Spitzmueller, C., Zhang, J., Thomas, C. L., Osezua, A., & Yu, J. (2018). When work–family conflict hits home: Parental work–family conflict and child health. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Advance online publication.

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD