By Lisa Pecos
We all know that the commute to work can be stressful and the longer the commute, the more of a pain it is. Past studies have looked into the impact that long commutes have on your health and have found that those with longer commutes are more likely to be overweight, have high blood pressure, and develop cardiovascular disease. Long commutes have also been associated with lower life satisfaction and a higher risk of marital issues, including marriage breakdown.
While your long commute is certainly no picnic for you or your health, it turns out that your commute may also have a negative impact on your children, according to a recent study.
A study conducted by researchers from WZB Berlin Social Science Center was the first to look at the negative effects of a father’s commute time on their children.
The study examined the impact of a father’s work commute on children’s social and emotional wellbeing. The children’s ages ranged from 5 to 6. The results showed that a father’s commute in the two years prior was associated with increased peer problems and emotional issues.
The children’s risk of relationship problems with their peers increased with the distance of the fathers’ commute. The symptoms associated with emotional and peer problems include:
- Preferring to play alone rather than with other children
- Being bullied by other children
- Feeling unhappy
- Being solitary
The study also linked the fathers’ commutes to increased hyperactivity in the children.
What Can You Take from This
A different job with a closer commute may not be an option, but the researchers of the study suggest that parents consider their children’s wellbeing when making decisions about where to work. They’re also recommending more research into how long commutes affect parenting behaviour.
If changing jobs is not a realistic option for you, being aware of the impact your commute may be having on your child is a start and can provide an opportunity to make some small changes to help your children. Consider the following:
- Spending more quality time with your children when you are home
- Avoiding working late whenever possible and providing consistency by getting home at around the same time every day
- Taking public transportation if you find your drive to and from work stressful
- Engaging in physical activity with your family, such as going for a bike ride or walk to not only spend time together, but also to lower stress levels and improve your health and theirs
- Avoiding complaining about your work or commute and showing signs of stress around your children
A shorter commute may not be in the cards for everyone, but being aware of how it can impact you and your family and making the effort to make your situation more pleasant is in your best interest and theirs.