Work-to-family conflict, family-to-work conflict and their relation to perceived parenting and the parent-child relationship before and during the first Covid-19 lockdown

Renske Verweij, Katrien Helmerhorst, Renske Keizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Our objective is twofold: First, to examine whether, to what extent and for whom (by sex and educational attainment) work-to-family conflict (W→F-conflict) and family-to-work conflict (F→W-conflict) increased from the pre-Covid-19 period to the first lockdown period. Second, to examine whether and to what extent the negative associations between W→F-conflict/F→W-conflict and perceived parenting (positive encouragement, coercive parenting and the parent-child relationship) became stronger. Background: During the first Covid-19 lockdown, parents were asked to provide childcare and home-schooling for their children while also being expected to fulfil their work obligations. Under these circumstances, this study was set out to examine how W→F-conflict/F→W-conflict, perceived parenting and their associations were affected. Method: Multilevel regression models were applied to longitudinal data collected among 55 employed mothers and 76 employed fathers with a 3-year-old child at wave 1. Results: We found that F→W-conflict/W→F-conflict increased most strongly among highly educated mothers, followed by lower/medium educated mothers and highly educated fathers, while no increase or even a decrease was observed among lower/medium educated fathers. We found some associations between W→F-conflict/F→W-conflict with perceived parenting, but these did not consistently become stronger during the Covid-19 wave. Although overall heightened levels of conflict did not strongly spill over to mothers’ and fathers’ perceived parenting, our results showed that for some parents conflict clearly increased with negative implications for their perceived parenting. Conclusion: With some noteworthy exceptions, increases in F→W-conflict/W→F-conflict did not coincide with decreases in perceived parenting, indicating that most parents did not let increased conflict between work and family affect their parenting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-771
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Family Research
Issue number3
Early online date3-Nov-2021
Publication statusPublished - 1-Dec-2021
Externally publishedYes

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