How Work-Related Issues Can Impact Family Systems

Although most couples are not always aware, but work-related behaviors influence family dynamics and vice versa.  The fact that work is a significant factor in personal happiness, has long been recognized by researchers and clinicians.

Examples of Work-Related Issues Affecting Families:

*  Unemployment
*  Supervisor-Employee Stress
*  Dual Careers
*  Children Home Alone
*  Re-locations
*  Job Dissatisfaction
*  Retirement
*  Disability

Examples of “Leaving Home” Issues Work Places on Families

*  Children going to school
*  Adolescents to their first job
*  Mothers to work
*  Fathers to new positions or jobs

The above lists are issues and changes affecting families provoking a number of behaviors that may seem impossible to resolve.  Or, these changes may affect the family in a way that may exacerbate dysfunction in a family already at risk.

Work and its interaction in the family plays an important part on how rules and roles are constructed for its members.  Rules influence perceptions of what is expected of members, what is appropriate, and what is possible.  This has direct impact on career selection:  issues such as homemaker vs. taking a job outside the home, technical school vs. university setting, or traditional vs. nontraditional occupation.

Roles of various family members impact and influence their behaviors in career development.  An example of this would be, choosing a job to maintain the family name vs. choosing a job according to their own personal preference (i.e., independent choices are allowed vs. choices are demanded to satisfy the needs of others’, vicariously).

It is often very helpful for couples to distinguish between what they can manipulate, either family or work environment, to alleviate troublesome behaviors.  When they gain coping skills over interpersonal conflicts and learn to achieve control over their environment, they are now in the driver’s seat.

Source:  Brock, G. W., Barnard, C. P.  (1999).  Procedures in Marriage and Family Therapy, Third Edition.  (pp. 58-59).  Needham Heights, MA:  Allyn and Bacon

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