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Coparenting

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Coparenting

Coparenting is the coordination of childcare between two or more adults. The parents may live together or apart and provide care for dependent children. This is often a supportive relationship where positive childcare practices are reinforced. However, there can be disputes which create an unstable environment for children.

 

The nonstandard schedules of PSP often involve rotating shifts, mandatory overtime, and call-ins. These work requirements can conflict with childcare responsibilities. In some cases, this puts pressure on the non-PSP parent to fill-in the gaps. When one parent takes on an unfair share of child rearing in the coparenting relationship, they may experience fatigue and resentment due to role overload.

Adaptive coparenting

Adaptive coparenting is when two parents work together to overcome challenges related to parenting roles. For example, the non-PSP parent might arrange a family visit to the fire station to visit their firefighter (PSP parent) on duty – this gives children a chance to connect and see where their parent works. Rotating shifts also provide opportunities for parenting. Certain shifts allow PSP to be home with children during the daytime which can benefit dual-career couples.

Challenges of coparenting

Coparenting may become more difficult when there are problems in the relationship due to poor communication and conflicts.

Competing Demands

Some PSP organizations have yet to take into account family and childcare responsibilities within dual-career households. This can make it difficult to balance work and family life.

Maladaptive Coparenting

Families can suffer when parents are unable or unwilling to share childcare fairly. Problems can also arise when a parent undermines the other parent’s child rearing practices.

Gender Inequality

A study showed that married male police officers spend less time caring for children and elders than their spouses. With the birth of children, there is sometimes a shift for women to traditional roles within the family.

Examples of adaptive and maladaptive coparenting

References for this page (click to expand)

American Psychological Association. (2022). APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/

Brodie, P. J., & Eppler, C. (2012). Exploration of Perceived Stressors, Communication, and Resilience in Law-Enforcement Couples. Journal of family psychotherapy, 23(1), 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2012.654082

Duxbury, L., Bardoel, A., & Halinski, M. (2021). ‘Bringing the Badge home’: exploring the relationship between role overload, work-family conflict, and stress in police officers. Policing & society, 31(8), 997-1016. https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2020.1822837

Feinberg, M. E., Boring, J., Le, Y., Hostetler, M. L., Karre, J., Irvin, J., & Jones, D. E. (2020). Supporting Military Family Resilience at the Transition to Parenthood: A Randomized Pilot Trial of an Online Version of Family Foundations. Family relations, 69(1), 109-124. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12415

Paley, B., Lester, P., & Mogil, C. (2013). Family Systems and Ecological Perspectives on the Impact of Deployment on Military Families. Clinical child and family psychology review, 16(3), 245-265. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-013-0138-y

Saltzman, W. R., Lester, P., Beardslee, W. R., Layne, C. M., Woodward, K., & Nash, W. P. (2011). Mechanisms of Risk and Resilience in Military Families: Theoretical and Empirical Basis of a Family-Focused Resilience Enhancement Program. Clinical child and family psychology review, 14(3), 213-230. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-011-0096-1

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Cognitive overload

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Cognitive overload

 

Cognitive overload occurs when a person has too much to think about and becomes overwhelmed trying to complete multiple tasks. There might not be enough time to do everything that needs to be done or the tasks may be too difficult.

Consequences of cognitive overload

Constant changes to family schedules to accommodate the PSP can take a toll. Families can experience flexibility fatigue, relationship strain, uncertainty, and guilt.

 

Cognitive overload activity

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References for this page (click to expand)

American Psychological Association. (2022). APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/

Brodie, P. J., & Eppler, C. (2012). Exploration of Perceived Stressors, Communication, and Resilience in Law-Enforcement Couples. Journal of family psychotherapy, 23(1), 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2012.654082

Dean, L., Churchill, B., & Ruppanner, L. (2022). The mental load: building a deeper theoretical understanding of how cognitive and emotional labor overload women and mothers. Community, work & family, 25(1), 13-29. https://doi.org/10.1080/13668803.2021.2002813

Duxbury, L., & Higgins, C. (2012). Caring for and about those who serve: work-life conflict and employee well being within Canada’s police. Sprott School of Business, Carleton University.

Karaffa, K., Openshaw, L., Koch, J., Clark, H., Harr, C., & Stewart, C. (2015). Perceived Impact of Police Work on Marital Relationships. The Family journal (Alexandria, Va.), 23(2), 120-131. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480714564381

Regehr, C. (2005). Bringing the trauma home: Spouses of paramedics. Journal of loss & trauma, 10(2), 97-114. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325020590908812

Regehr, C., Dimitropoulos, G., Bright, E., George, S., & Henderson, J. (2005). Behind the Brotherhood: Rewards and Challenges for Wives of Firefighters. Family relations, 54(3), 423-435. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2005.00328.x

Watkins, S. L., Shannon, M. A., Hurtado, D. A., Shea, S. A., & Bowles, N. P. (2021). Interactions between home, work, and sleep among firefighters. American journal of industrial medicine, 64(2), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23194


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Eldercare

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

What is eldercare? How can it affect families?

 

Eldercare refers to the care of older adults, often by their adult children. Those supporting elders take on a wide range of caregiving responsibilities like helping to support health appointments, nutrition, finances, and household management. When families engage in eldercare, there are additional ongoing demands on time and schedules for families to try to balance.

How does eldercare affect PSP families?

Benefits and challenges of eldercare

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References for this page (click to expand)

Cattanach, L., & Tebes, J. K. (1991). The nature of elder impairment and its impact on family caregivers’ health and psychosocial functioning. The Gerontologist, 31(2), 246–255. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/31.2.246  

Chassin, L., Macy, J. T., Seo, D. C., Presson, C. C., & Sherman, S. J. (2010). The association between membership in the sandwich generation and health behaviors: A longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 38–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2009.06.001  

Duxbury, L., Halinski, M., & Stevenson, M. (2022). Something’s Gotta Give: The relationship between time in eldercare, time in childcare, and employee wellbeing. Journal of Aging and Health, 34(6–8), 1101–1116. https://doi.org/10.1177/08982643221092876  

Duxbury, L., & Higgins, C. (2012). Caring for and about those who serve: Work-life conflict and employee wellbeing within Canada’s police. Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. 

Riley, L. D., & Bowen, C. P. (2005). The sandwich generation: Challenges and coping strategies of multigenerational families. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 13, 52-58. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1066480704270099  


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Dual-career households

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Dual-career households

Dual-career households are households in which both adult partners hold demanding jobs. Each partner can pursue a career and together they benefit financially.

 

Challenges of dual-career households

Balancing work and family is an ongoing challenge and there can be conflicts between the two. If a spouse or significant other (SSO) of a PSP also works shifts, the challenges increase. Attention must be given to transitions, planning, responsibilities, and scheduling.

Dual-PSP households

For dual-career households where both partners are working as PSP, there is a mix of opportunity and challenge. Each partner has insight into the experiences and stressors of being ‘on the job.’ Boundaries between work and home can blur, with the family experiencing spillover. It can get more complicated to navigate if both PSP work within the same sector or organization, or if there is a difference of rank within a dual-PSP couple. Also, the atypical schedules can create a model of ‘tag-team parenting’ for couples who have children. Tag-team parenting allows each parent dedicated time with their children. The downside is that each parent is going solo when the other parent is at work. Families have less time when everyone is together. Parents can feel like they are single parenting much of the time, resulting in sleep deprivation and physical fatigue. Women in dual PSP relationships may also report additional gendered expectations.

woman telling to friend about her problems

How might having a dual-career household affect family life?

Dual-career household logistics

Tips for dual-career families

  • Being aware of the logistical challenges can help PSP couples and families to problem solve. Through conversation, families have an opportunity to be creative and proactive.
  • Working together to support each career in a dual-career household is important.
  • Shaping times in which the non-PSP career can take precedence can create a sense of balance.
  • For dual-PSP career households, understanding the unique aspects of the job can lead to too much “shop talk”. Couples can feel that they cannot escape the job. It is important for dual-PSP households to talk about when, how, and how much they will communicate about their workday.

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References for this page (click to expand)

Brodie, P. J., & Eppler, C. (2012). Exploration of Perceived Stressors, Communication, and Resilience in Law-Enforcement Couples. Journal of family psychotherapy, 23(1), 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2012.654082

Carlson, D. S., Thompson, M. J., & Kacmar, K. M. (2019). Double crossed: The spillover and crossover effects of work demands on work outcomes through the family. The Journal of applied psychology, 104(2), 214–228. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000348

Carrington, J. L. (2006). Elements of and strategies for maintaining a police marriage: The lived perspectives of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and their spouses ProQuest Dissertations Publishing].

Duxbury, L., & Higgins, C. . (2012). Caring for and about those who serve: work-life conflict and employee well being within Canada’s police. Sprott School of Business, Carleton University.

Duxbury, L., Bardoel, A., & Halinski, M. (2021). ‘Bringing the Badge home’: exploring the relationship between role overload, work-family conflict, and stress in police officers. Policing & society, 31(8), 997-1016. https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2020.1822837

Friese, K. M. (2020). Cuffed together: A study on how law enforcement work impacts the officer’s spouse. International journal of police science & management, 22(4), 407-418. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461355720962527

Higgins, C. A., Duxbury, L. E., & Lyons, S. T. (2010). Coping With Overload and Stress: Men and Women in Dual-Earner Families. Journal of marriage and family, 72(4), 847-859. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00734.x

Strazdins, L., Clements, M. S., Korda, R. J., Broom, D. H., & D’Souza, R. M. (2006). Unsociable Work? Nonstandard Work Schedules, Family Relationships, and Children’s Well-Being. Journal of marriage and family, 68(2), 394-410. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00260.x


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Physical fatigue

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Physical fatigue is when a person is in a constant state of tiredness or weakness. They may be unable to perform day-to-day physical tasks. Physical fatigue can progress into physical exhaustion, which is the body’s sensation of extreme and persistent tiredness. When in a state of exhaustion, a person feels completely drained.

What can cause physical fatigue?

There are many things that can contribute to physical fatigue. Below are some common causes.

  • Workplace stress
    • Extended periods of mental or physical work
  • Emotional concerns
    • Mental health problems including depression and grief
    • Prolonged anxiety
  • Sleep deprivation / insufficient sleep
    • Shiftwork and overtime
    • Lifestyle and changes in routine
    • Illness and injury

Physical fatigue can be accompanied by irritability and a lack of motivation. Research shows that the loss of just one night’s sleep has a significant impact on both physical and mental functioning.1


Consequences of physical fatigue

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References for this page (click to expand)

1American Psychological Association. (2022). APA Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/. 

2Angehrn, A., Teale Sapach, M. J. N., Ricciardelli, R., Macphee, R. S., Anderson, G. S., & Nicholas Carleton, R. (2020). Sleep quality and mental disorder symptoms among Canadian public safety personnel. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(8), 2708. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082708 

3Watkins, S. L., Shannon, M. A., Hurtado, D. A., Shea, S. A., & Bowles, N. P. (2021). Interactions between home, work, and sleep among firefighters. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 64(2), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23194 

Duxbury, L., Lyons, S., & Higgins, C. (2008). Too much to do, and not enough time: An examination of role overload. In Handbook of Work-Family Integration (pp. 125-140). Academic Press. 

Miller, L. (2007). Police Families: Stresses, Syndromes, and Solutions. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 21-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/01926180600698541  

Roth, S. G., & Moore, C. D. (2009). Work-family fit: The impact of emergency medical services work on the family system. Prehospital Emergency Care, 13(4), 462-468. https://doi.org/10.1080/10903120903144791  

Vogel, Braungardt, T., Meyer, W., & Schneider, W. (2012). The effects of shift work on physical and mental health. Journal of Neural Transmission, 119(10), 1121–1132. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-012-0800-4  


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Childcare

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Childcare

 

The demands of childcare can be challenging for all families. Shiftwork, shift changes, and overtime hours mean that PSP families can face more complex situations. These demands can pile up and overwhelm PSP families.

  • Evidence shows that police officers, firefighters, and paramedics and their SSOs identified shiftwork as creating childcare conflicts and negatively impacting family relationships.1,2,3
  • Childcare is often not available outside of the standard work day so it is difficult to arrange when one or both partners work shifts. Alternate childcare can be expensive, and parents may rely on extended family for support.
  • Childcare scrambles occur when the work schedules of parents overlap and are characterized by inconsistent and poorer quality childcare arrangements.

Coparenting and tag-team parenting

Coparenting

  • Parents work together to coordinate childcare responsibilities.
  • Learn more about coparenting.

Tag-team parenting

  • Common coparenting method used by households where two or more parents work outside the home.
  • Tag-team parents alternate between parenting responsibilities and paid employment so that one parent is always available for childcare.
  • Learn more about parenting in dual career households.

Career and life-cycle stages

 

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References for this page (click to expand)

1Brodie, P. J., & Eppler, C. (2012). Exploration of perceived stressors, communication, and resilience in law-enforcement couples. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 23(1), 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2012.654082  

2Regehr, C. (2005). Bringing the trauma home: Spouses of paramedics. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 10(2), 97-114. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325020590908812  

3Watkins, S. L., Shannon, M. A., Hurtado, D. A., Shea, S. A., & Bowles, N. P. (2021). Interactions between home, work, and sleep among firefighters. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 64(2), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23194  

4Myers, & Booth, A. (1996). Men’s retirement and marital quality. Journal of Family Issues, 17(3), 336–357. https://doi.org/10.1177/019251396017003003  

Boyd-Swan, C. H. (2019). Nonparental child care during nonstandard hours: Does participation influence child well-being? Labour Economics, 57, 85-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.labeco.2019.01.006  

Lambert, E. G., Hogan, N. L., & Barton, S. M. (2004). The nature of work-family conflict among correctional staff: An exploratory examination. Criminal Justice Review (Atlanta, Ga.), 29(1), 145-172. https://doi.org/10.1177/073401680402900109 

Lero, D. S., Prentice, Susan, Friendly, Martha, Richardson, Brooke and Fraser, Ley. . (2019). Non-standard work and child care in Canada: A challenge for parents, policy makers, and child care provision. https://childcarecanada.org/sites/default/files/Non-Standard%20Work%20and%20Child%20Care%2C%20revised%20June%202021.pdf 

Strazdins, L., Clements, M. S., Korda, R. J., Broom, D. H., & D’Souza, R. M. (2006). Unsociable work? Nonstandard work schedules, family relationships, and children’s well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(2), 394-410. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00260.x  


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