Parent–Child Activities, Paid Work Interference, and Child Mental Health. By: Roeters, Anne; van Houdt, Kirsten. Family Relations. Apr2019, Vol. 68 Issue 2, p232-245.

Objective: To examine the association between child mental health and (a) the amount of parent–child interaction and (b) the amount of interference in that interaction due to paid work. Background: Although some research findings suggest children do not always benefit from being with their parents full‐time, other studies suggest it is important for children to have their parents’ undivided attention. Method: Analyses are based on the 2013 New Families in the Netherlands dataset (639 fathers and 849 mothers of school‐aged children). Using structural equation modeling (SEM), we analyzed how child well‐being varied with the frequency of parent–child activities and the amount of interference due to paid work. Results: Children demonstrated better mental health when the frequency of father–child activities was higher and the amount of interference due to work was lower. We found no effects for mothers. Moreover, the association between the frequency of parent–child activities and child mental health was not moderated by the amount of interference due to paid work (neither for fathers nor mothers). Conclusion: The findings suggest that children attach great importance to the psychological availability of their fathers. We speculate that children respond more strongly to their fathers because their attention and involvement is less taken for granted than that of mothers. Implications: Given the intrusive nature of smartphones and laptops in daily life, it is crucial that parents, employers, and family life educators understand how distractions during parent–child time due to paid work can affect children. With this knowledge, strategies to minimize unintended detrimental consequences for children can be developed.