Your Coworkers Might Be Making You a Bad Mom According to New Study

Sep 20, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Working mother
Image: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images.

As hard as we may try to avoid bringing work home with us, a new study by the American Psychological Association indicates that the impact of working with bad coworkers can reach far beyond office walls. The study surveyed 146 working mothers and their spouses to reveal that mothers who experienced workplace behavior that was considered “rude, disrespectful, impolite or otherwise violating workplace norms of respect” from coworkers were more likely to punish their children harshly and to micromanage their lives. 

“In uncovering how this mistreatment in the workplace interferes with positive mother-child interactions, this research also speaks to a previously unacknowledged group of indirect incivility victims, namely children,” said Dr. Angela Dionisi, one of the study’s researchers. 

One reason the workday is so hard to shake off is that working moms feel their competency is challenged in one area, so they feel they have to double down to make sure that their authority is not challenged in another. 

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“Being on the receiving end of workplace incivility has been linked to lower levels of effort and performance on the job, higher levels of stress, and impaired attention, information processing and decision-making,” said researcher Dr. Kathryne Dupré.

Being raised in a household by someone practicing an authoritarian parenting style can have devastating consequences for children. Children raised in authoritarian homes can grow to associate obedience with love, behave aggressively, exhibit a lack of self-control and experience anxiety as a result of receiving less praise and more punishment during crucial developmental years.

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Working with disrespectful people can often be brushed off as being "not that big a deal," but it has serious effects. 

"This is a form of mistreatment that many likely dismiss as non-effectual. It’s unpleasant, it’s frustrating, but it may boil down to one seeing a coworker behaving as a jerk. Our findings, however, suggest that this low-intensity behavior can actually erode one’s sense of parental competence,” said Dionisi.

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Because of the varied negative outcomes of working with bad coworkers, supervisors should appropriately address complaints about coworker incivility. Promoting respectful workplace cultures impacts more than just the office; it impacts the next generation.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards and career advice.

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