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6 Parental Employment and Adolescent Development T his chapter considers the effects of parental employment on the salient developmental tasks of young people past middle child- hood, between the ages of 12 and 18. An overview of opportuni- ties and challenges associated with parental employment during adolescence is considered in terms of adult supervision and child care arrangements and responsibilities, adolescents' use of time after school, and parent-adolescent relationships. Also included is an overview of de- velopmental tasks during adolescence in order to highlight the unique needs of this group of teens. DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS DURING ADOLESCENCE Modern developmental theories underscore the holistic nature of the developmental process (e.g., Bronfenbrenner and Morris, 1998; Cairns, 1979; Magnusson and Stattin, 1998). According to the holistic perspective, all aspects of an adolescent's functioning are interdependent. Any single factor--such as parental employment--gains meaning through its func- tional relationship with other aspects of the developing system. In this view, internal changes at one level (e.g., biological changes associated with pubertal maturation) have implications for developments at other levels (e.g., psychological functioning and social relationships) (Stattin and Magnusson, 1989). At the same time, internal functions are influenced by the social contexts of which the adolescent is a part. Because increasing 178
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 179 participation in multiple settings characterizes adolescence, it is imperative that individual-environment interactions across contexts are assessed and related to changes in psychosocial adjustment (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Accordingly, understanding adolescent development requires attention to the whole person and her or his interaction with multiple aspects of the environment, and persons therein, over time. The notion of salient developmental tasks essentially refers to the at- tainment of age-appropriate competencies. The acquisition of such compe- tencies increases the likelihood that an individual will be able to take ad- vantage of personal and environmental resources at a specific point in the developmental process. This permits the attainment of positive develop- mental status in the present and increases the likelihood for healthy adjust- ment in the future (Waters and Sroufe, 1983). The attainment of compe- tencies always involves a complex history of interactions among aspects within the individual, and the individual's interaction with available re- sources and opportunities in the environment, over time. Accordingly, competence during adolescence is tied to previous functioning, and it may be defined somewhat differently according to individual differences, con- texts, and changing historical conditions (Elder et al., 1993; Mahoney and Bergman, 2002). During middle childhood, salient developmental tasks include forming a positive orientation toward school and achievement, developing and main- taining conventional relationships with peers and adults outside the family, and acquiring appropriate value systems about rules and conduct across different contexts (Masten and Coatsworth, 1998). These tasks remain important during adolescence and are typically renegotiated in light of interdependent transitions and developments in biological and physical maturation, cognitive functioning, social-emotional abilities and relation- ships, and social contexts (Eccles et al., 1993). Early theories of adolescent development, such as Erikson's (1968) age- graded psychosocial theory, described the processes of identity formation, individuation and autonomy, and personal mastery/efficacy, as the salient tasks for youth. The importance of these tasks has been anchored by empirical support and also refreshed by new challenges and opportunities that face today's youth. For example, studies of adolescent time use show that youth spend significantly more time in the company of peers than is reported during childhood (Larson, 2001). Dyadic friendships expand to peer networks and crowds that tend to form on the basis of particular values, norms, attributes, and behaviors (Brown, 1990; Cairns and Cairns, 1994). Intimacy in relationships becomes more central (Berndt, 1982), the social influence of peers for positive and negative behaviors increases (Brown et al., 1986), and interest in romantic relationships intensifies
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180 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS (Levesque, 1993). Relationships with parents continue to be a critical source of support during adolescence (Laursen et al., 1998), and relation- ships with unrelated adults, such as teachers, coaches, mentors, and em- ployers, become increasingly important influences as well (National Re- search Council and Institute of Medicine, 1999; Rhodes, 1994). Academic performance continues to be important across adolescence and attains new consequence with regard to prospects for postsecondary school education and employment. Although schoolwork is viewed as challenging, many adolescents report low levels of motivation and excite- ment during in-class learning experiences (Larson, 2000). Time spent in social relationships and experiences in activities outside the classroom be- come a more typical source of satisfaction for young persons. Greater responsibilities at home, including the care of younger siblings, characterize the adolescent experience for many youth (Burton et al., 1995). Devoting significant time to involvement in after-school enrichment activities and service learning experience is common (National Survey of America's Fami- lies, 1997; Youniss and Yates, 1997), and paid employment becomes the norm for most young persons by the end of high school (Steinberg and Cauffman, 1995). These nonschool learning experiences contribute to the development of several important competencies during adolescence, includ- ing agency and personal initiative, civic and community engagement, form- ing a sense of industry, and making plans for the future. Overall, it appears that most adolescents negotiate the salient tasks of adolescence successfully (National Research Council and Institute of Medi- cine, 2002), even under conditions of adversity (Luthar and Chicchetti, 2000). However, some young persons do not develop adequate competen- cies and engage in a variety of problem behaviors. Consistent with holistic theories of development, problem behaviors during adolescence tend to come in packages rather than in isolation (Jessor, 1993). This is of particu- lar concern because adolescence is a developmental period in which many problem behaviors escalate in frequency, severity, and consequence. By way of example, the prevalence of criminal arrests increases dra- matically across adolescence, with a lifetime peak for boys and girls occur- ring between ages 16 and 19, and the daily peak time for juvenile violence occurring between the hours of 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001). While juvenile arrests have decreased in recent years, the arrest rate for females under age 18 in 2000 was 25 percent higher than in 1991. Rates of substance use remain a concern as well. Among high school seniors surveyed nationally about substance use during the past 30 days, approximately 30 percent report smoking cigarettes, 33 percent report drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication, and 26 percent used illicit substances (Johnston et al., 2002). The national estimate of high school dropout for young persons ages 16-24 was 10.9 percent in 2000; the rate
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 181 for Hispanic youth was 27.8 percent (National Center for Education Statis- tics, 2001). Sexual activities and the associated risks also increase markedly with the onset of puberty. Recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1999 indicate that roughly 50 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse (Centers for Disease Con- trol and Prevention, 2002a). Among sexually active high school students, the use of a condom or birth control pill before the last sexual intercourse was reported by 58 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively. Moreover, while adolescence is often viewed as a time of health and vitality, 16 percent of high school students may be classified as at risk for obesity or being overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002b). Finally, the prevalence of various mental health problems, such as anxiety (Albano et al., 1996), depression (Birmaher et al., 1996), suicide (Kachur et al., 1995), and aspects of conduct disorder (Achenbach, 1991), is increased significantly during adolescence. PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT ADJUSTMENT As described in Chapter 2, the percentage of employed mothers with school-age children has grown markedly over the last several years (see Blau, 2001, Figure 2-1). Among families with children ages 6-17, 78.7 percent of mothers and 93.5 percent of fathers were employed in 2001 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002). The majority of parents (both mothers and fathers) were employed full-time. Given the preceding discussion, the remainder of this chapter focuses on how parental employment during adolescence may impede or facilitate important developmental tasks during adolescence. There are three main ways by which parental employment may influence adolescent adjustment: (1) parental supervision, child care arrangements, and responsibilities while parents are working; (2) access to supervised activities and contexts; and (3) parenting practices that may affect the parent-adolescent relationship. Parental Supervision, Child Care Arrangements, and Responsibilities Self-Care Self-care generally involves an arrangement in which the child cares for himself or herself in the absence of adult supervision. Self-care is an in- creasingly common arrangement during adolescence. Whereas 11 percent of 10-year-olds experience some self-care while their mother is at work, the percentage rises to 25 percent for 12-year-olds and 40 percent for 14-year- olds, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP,
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182 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS 1999).1 The time spent in self-care also increases with age: 14-year-olds spend approximately 9.5 hours per week in this arrangement compared with 8 hours for 12-year-olds and 6 hours for 10-year-olds. Ethnic differ- ences reveal that self-care is consistently most prevalent for white children and least prevalent for Hispanic children ages 10 to 14; however, ethnic differences diminish with the child's age as self-care becomes more common for young persons in all ethnic groups by the age of 14. By contrast, the average number of hours that 10- to 14-year-olds spend in self-care does not differ markedly by ethnicity. Self-care is less common among families below or near the poverty line, and it becomes more common as hours of parental employment increase. Historically, self-care has become more prevalent in recent decades owing to a variety of possible factors, including increases in employment for single- parent and dual-earner families, dispersion of extended families, and lack of after-school programs serving children over the age of 12 (Stewart, 2001). However, the proportion of children experiencing self-care has been relatively stable across the early 1990s. Self-care can be divided into two broad categories: in-home self-care and out-of-home self-care. Anita, 19 years old and living in New York City, further suggests the burdensome aspects of accelerated development (Williams and Kornblum, 1985:39): Anita is . . . working her way through City College. Her mother works extremely long hours cleaning offices in midtown Manhattan. This leaves Anita with the responsibility for caring for her own 2- year-old as well as her four younger siblings. Often at wits' end with fatigue and anxiety, Anita's usual calm has failed her today. "I'm so worried about my brother, the 14-year-old. He's getting in with a rough crowd. I know he's going to get into serious trouble real soon if we can't get him into something that will help him." In-Home Self-Care refers to time spent in the home by oneself or in the company of siblings, while parent(s) are working. Children and early 1 As was explained previously in Chapter 3, the data on self-care should be interpreted with caution. The estimates of the number of children without adult supervision has varied across reports and depends somewhat on the month the question is asked (whether school is in session or not), the parents' interpretation of the term "self-care," and the parents' willing- ness to admit that their children are left home alone.
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 183 adolescents in this category of self-care are frequently referred to as "latch- key children" (Rodman et al., 1985). Comparisons between adolescents in in-home self-care and those in adult-supervised arrangements have tended not to find substantial differences in adjustment (e.g., Galambos and Maggs, 1991; Rodman et al., 1985; Steinberg, 1986; Stewart, 2001). However, the unsupervised conditions that occur as part of in-home self-care may be conducive to loneliness and boredom, as well as to engagement in health- compromising behaviors (i.e., unhealthy dietary behavior; passivity; use of tobacco, alcohol, and other illicit substances; early sexual activity) (e.g., Coolson et al., 1985; Stewart, 2001; Zill et al., 1995). The directionality of associations between adolescent self-care and problem behaviors is not clear. For instance, factors that affect the parental decision process in selecting self-care are often unaccounted for in the above studies. Moreover, longitudinal designs using appropriate compari- son groups are scarce. Future research might assess the frequency and duration of in-home self-care for adolescents, whether the arrangement is voluntary or required, and the extent to which visitors (e.g., peers) are present and focus more attention on the characteristics of the home envi- ronment when making comparisons with adolescents in other arrange- ments while their parents are at work. A subcategory of in-home self-care involves caring for younger siblings. Approximately 1.4 percent of 6- to 10-year-olds and 1.9 percent of 11- to 14-year-olds are left primarily in the care of an older sibling (SIPP, 1999). In the majority of cases, the sibling providing care is at least 15 years of age and the care takes place in the child's home. Ethnic differences among adolescent caretakers reveal little variation. However, sibling care is, in general, a primary arrangement more often for black children (3.5 percent) compared with Hispanic (1.6 percent) or white (1.3 percent) children (SIPP, 1999). This form of care is most often provided by daughters (Zukow- Goldring, 1995) and is also most common in single-parent and low-income families (de Vaus and Millward, 1998; Laird et al., 1998) and may be more typical in families living in rural areas (Zukow-Goldring, 1995; Conger and Elder, 1994). Evidence on the consequences of sibling care is limited and mixed. For example, some research suggests that children under the care of their sib- lings demonstrate poorer academic achievement and attitudes toward school than those in formal, supervised after-school programs (Miller and Marx, 1990). By contrast, other studies report no significant relationship between being under sibling care and later behavioral adjustment for higher-income families (Marshall et al., 1997). To be sure, sibling care is valuable when family care arrangements are considered in an ecological context. For example, qualitative data suggest that in families with physically disabled or mentally ill children, siblings
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184 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS Art's mother describes how sibling care worked during an earlier period (Fordham, 1996:168-169): I had to work . . . [s]o they [the older siblings] would mind him-- see I had to be at work at three, so the bus wouldn't bring him [home] til like six, so they would mind him, and I'd cook everything [and leave it] on the stove so they could fix it. . . . They mind themselves while I went to work--they went to school, and then I would cook and wash clothes at night when I come home. . . . Then I'd get about two or three hours' sleep or something. . . So, anyway, I made it. And they didn't give me any trouble. . . . And that's all they did--they stayed in the house. So they've never been in trouble, or jail, or stealing, or dope or nothing, yet. . . . I hope they don't. often provide essential caregiving assistance (Zukow-Goldring, 1995). Sib- ling care may also be of particular importance in high-risk, impoverished environments in which alternative child care arrangements are not possible. In such contexts, older siblings can represent an effective source of child monitoring, supervision, guidance, and positive modeling and assist with homework while parents are working (Burton and Jarrett, 2000; Jarrett, 1998b; Zukow-Goldring, 1995). Indeed, some researchers regard the re- sponsible care of younger siblings as a salient task for adolescents (Mahoney and Bergman, 2002; Yoshikawa and Seidman, 2000; Werner and Smith, 1992). An important gap in the knowledge base on sibling care concerns the impact on adolescent caregivers. Caregiving by adolescent siblings may fa- cilitate such competencies as planfulness, responsibility, and maturity. It may also prematurely accelerate young persons into adult roles, augment negative emotions (e.g., stress, anger, anxiety, depression), and undermine opportuni- ties for involvement in after-school enrichment activities or employment. It seems likely that both positive and negative consequences are possible and may depend on the particular individual and family considered. However, the empirical evidence needed to inform this issue is lacking. Out-of-Home Self-Care can entail a wide variety of situations in which the adolescent is alone, or with others, outside her or his home and not under the supervision of an adult. Available research has not always been clear on whether a parent is working during out-of-home self-care, or whether this difference significantly moderates the association with adolescent adjust- ment. Nonetheless, research across the disciplines of psychology, criminol- ogy, leisure studies, education, and anthropology report associations be-
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 185 tween adolescent engagement in unsupervised and unstructured after-school endeavors and a range of problem behaviors (e.g., antisocial behavior, crime, substance use, early sexual activity). The likelihood that out-of-home self-care may be problematic de- pends on peer socialization and parental monitoring. While the majority of peer influence during adolescence appears to support conventional and prosocial behavior (e.g., Brown et al., 1986), after-school arrangements that feature a lack of adult supervision accompanied by affiliation with deviant peers in unstructured contexts are associated with negative out- comes (e.g., Dishion et al., 1999; Galombos and Maggs, 1991; Mahoney et al., 2001; McCord, 1978; Osgood et al., 1996; Steinberg, 1986; Aizer, 2001). On this score, the capacity of parents to influence adolescents' activities, peer relationships, and unstructured leisure when they are not present seems critical. During childhood and adolescence, parental supervision is frequently conceptualized in terms of parental monitoring--the extent to which par- ents are knowledgeable about their adolescent's whereabouts, affiliates, and activities (Dishion and McMahon, 1998). Such knowledge may be obtained by solicitation of information, control and restriction of activities, or unsolicited child disclosure (Stattin and Kerr, 2000). Poor parental monitoring has been linked to a variety of negative behaviors and outcomes for young persons, including antisocial behavior and crime; use of tobacco, alcohol, and other illicit substances; poor school performance; and early sexual activity. The risks associated with poor parental monitoring appear greatest for young persons living in dangerous areas (Pettit et al., 1999) and are partly accounted for by an increased likelihood of deviant peer affilia- tion among unsupervised adolescents (Dishion et al., 1995; Reid and Patterson, 1989). Evidence indicates that the association between deviant peer affiliation and negative adjustment holds for both genders. Walter's mother provides an example of the risks of sibling care (Burton, 1991:36): I know he is out there [on the streets] when I'm at work. I don't have any other way right now to have someone watch my children . . . I hope and pray that I taught Walter the right things, though. He knows too that when I'm home he better be straight. The Lord only knows, I have to believe that what I taught him, the good I taught him, will bring him through and make him a good man. It is important to note, however, that the relations may be reciprocal. Adolescents prone to deviant behavior may also be more difficult for par-
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186 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS ents to communicate with and to monitor. A detailed account of the selection process into unstructured and unsupervised after-school settings is not presently available. However, young persons with existing behavioral problems appear especially prone to difficulties when they experience out- of-home self-care (Pettit et al., 1997), and those with dissatisfying experi- ences in structured settings (e.g., family, school, organized activities) are more likely to select unstructured and unsupervised endeavors (Mahoney et al., in pressb). The available research indicates a possible connection between mater- nal employment, monitoring, and adolescent adjustment. For example, data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found a small asso- ciation between previous or concurrent maternal employment characteris- tics and delinquency in early adolescence (Vander Ven et al., 2001) that was mediated by parental supervision. Similarly, Jacobson and Crockett (2000) found maternal employment to be a significant moderator between paren- tal monitoring and adolescent delinquent and sexual behavior, particularly when mothers were employed full time. Large-scale, experimental com- parisons of employed and unemployed mothers receiving welfare have also been conducted (Morris et al., 2002). While positive associations were found between adjustment and employment for younger children, maternal employment was negatively associated with school-related outcomes for adolescents (e.g., lower grade point average, grade retention, suspension, school dropout). However, the magnitude of these differences was gener- ally small and primarily based on parent reports of child or adolescent adjustment. Moreover, many nonexperimental studies do not report a significant link between parental employment and adolescent adjustment (e.g., Orthner, 1991). Access to Supervised Contexts and Activities Although rates of self-care do increase across adolescence, most young persons are engaged in some form of structured, adult-supervised arrange- ment during the after-school hours while their parent(s) are working. The association between involvement in two prevalent supervised settings dur- ing the after-school hours--structured enrichment activities and paid em- ployment--is considered in relation to parental employment and the salient developmental tasks of adolescence. Structured Enrichment Activities. Involvement in structured after-school enrichment activities, such as sports teams, lessons, and clubs, is relatively common during adolescence. Adult reports2 of youth ages 12 to 17 from 2 Questions were asked of the adult in the household most knowledgeable about the child; this was most often a parent.
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 187 the National Survey of America's Families (1997) indicates that 57 percent participated on a sports team in or out of school, 29 percent participated in lessons, and 60 percent participated in clubs or organizations after school or on weekends during the past year.3 Boys were more likely to be involved in sports activities than girls (64 versus 49 percent), while girls were more likely to be involved in lessons and clubs than were boys (34 versus 24 percent, and 68 versus 53 percent, respectively). White adolescents were more likely to participate in all categories of enrichment activities com- pared with black or Hispanic youth. Hispanic youth showed the lowest participation across these categories, although ethnic differences in sports participation are relatively small. Rates of participation are also higher among youth with married parents, and participation tends to increase with higher levels of family income and parental education (National Survey of America's Families, 1997). The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2002) re- cently evaluated the science and research on community programs and associated adjustment of young persons. That report underscores the tre- mendous diversity of programs that serve adolescents in the United States, and that most existing programs have not been evaluated, rigorously or otherwise. Three programs were highlighted in the report as having been evaluated with an appropriate comparison group and deserving of further study. Each program is structured, adult-supervised, and focuses on the prevention of problem behaviors or the enhancement of psychosocial com- petencies. The programs are (1) the Teen Outreach Program (Allen et al., 1997), which involves a school-based curriculum focusing on life-skills education, parent-adolescent relationships, future orientation, and volun- teer service in the community; (2) Big Brothers Big Sisters (Grossman and Tierney, 1998), which emphasizes one-to-one mentoring and life-skills train- ing for at-risk youth; and (3) the Quantum Opportunities Programs (Hahn et al., 1994), which targets youth in high-risk areas and provides commu- nity service activities, educational and job preparation training, and per- sonal and life-skills training. The evaluation of the Teen Outreach Program involved a random as- signment design of 695 students in grades 9 to 12 from 25 schools across the nation. The Quantum Opportunities Program evaluation used a ran- dom selection and random assignment design involving 50 8th grade stu- 3The NASF estimates are somewhat higher than percentages reported from the SIPP data. The difference is probably due to the fact that NASF estimates of participation in enrichment activities are reported over the last year, while SIPP estimates are based on current participa- tion at the time of survey. Comparisons between NASF data and the National Education Longitudinal Survey (1988) are also available. However, the NELS data on enrichment activities represent high school seniors only.
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188 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS dents from 5 sites whose families were receiving public assistance. The Big Brothers Big Sisters evaluation used a random selection and random assign- ment "waiting list" design comparing 959 students who were 10 to 16 years old and from single-parent homes; 8 program sites across the nation were involved in this evaluation. The findings from these evaluations (and several other quasi-experi- mental investigations) indicate that engagement in after-school enrichment activities may prevent the development of problem behaviors and promote competencies during adolescence. For example, compared with control group members, participants in the Teen Outreach Program reported lower rates of school failure (31 versus 37 percent), school suspension (16 versus 21 percent), and teenage pregnancy (3.2 versus 5.4 percent). Similarly, participants of the Quantum Opportunities Program had higher rates of high school graduation (63 versus 42 percent) and postsecondary school attendance (42 versus 16 percent), and lower rates of criminal arrest (17 versus 58 percent) than control group members. Likewise, participants of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program reported lower rates of drug use, truancy, and physical aggression and perceived their ability to complete schoolwork and their relationships with parents to be more positive than control group members. Note, however, that the magnitude of effects for the Big Brothers Big Sisters evaluation is relatively small, and both the Teen Outreach Program and Big Brothers Big Sisters evaluations rely heavily on self-reported information. Self-reported information may be biased to the extent that the programs increase knowledge of appropriate responses with- out affecting actual behaviors. The need and importance of youth activity and programs have been recognized in Congress through the proposed Younger Americans Act. It was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2001 and is expected to be reintroduced. As proposed, the act would authorize $5.75 billion over five years to provide enrichment opportunities for young per- sons ages 10 to 19 in the form of state block grants, with special attention given to low-income families. Enrichment activities that could be sup- ported include those fostering positive relationships with adults, structured after-school activities, those that promote job-related training and compe- tence, and community and service learning activities. While program content and goals differ across specific programs and activities, common denominators of effective programs include opportuni- ties to form positive relationships with peers and competent adults, a safe environment that fosters a sense of belonging and connectedness to conven- tional values, and the development of valued skills through regular and structured engagement in challenging activities that are intrinsically inter- esting to the participants. Overall, programs that lack such features seem unlikely to benefit young persons, and some may actually increase the
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 189 development of problem behaviors (e.g., Mahoney et al., 2001; McCord, 1978). Research on how participation in enrichment activities promotes suc- cessful development during adolescence is rapidly emerging (e.g., Mahoney et al., in press), and empirical evidence for a variety of activity-related change mechanisms is available. For example, Larson and colleagues (Larson, 2000; Dworkin et al., in press) find that enrichment activities offer a balance between challenge and enjoyment and promote "initiative skills," such as learning to set goals, managing time, and regulating emotions. Such skills may ultimately promote an appreciation for work and prepare young persons for the transition to adulthood (Csikszentmihalyi and Schneider, 2000; Mahoney, 2002). Peer relationships associated with structured after-school activities ap- pear to mediate improvements in social status and popularity for children who previously experienced low peer acceptance in the classroom (Eder and Kinney, 1995; Sandstrom and Coie, 1999). Peer affiliations in struc- tured after-school activities have also been shown to moderate the associa- tion between early profiles of problem adjustment and later school failure, dropout, and crime (Mahoney, 2000). After-school activities may also help to establish constructive relation- ships between adults and participating adolescents. For example, parents are often required to play a role in supporting children's after-school activi- ties, including the provision of transportation and social support. Parent engagement in child after-school activities has, in turn, been correlated with parent-child communication and trust (Csikszentmihalyi et al., 1993; Mahoney and Magnusson, 2001; Tierney and Grossman, 1995). More- over, relationships with after-school activity leaders may also be beneficial. Because children spend a significant amount of time engaged in after-school activities, there is an opportunity to form meaningful and lasting relation- ships with unrelated adult activity leaders. Available evidence indicates that supportive relations with unrelated adults may reduce the likelihood for developing problem behaviors among high-risk young persons (e.g., Werner, 1993). This appears to include affiliation with after-school activ- ity leaders, coaches, and mentors (e.g., Mahoney, 2000). Barriers to Participation in Structured Enrichment Activities. Students who are at risk for social and academic failure by virtue of early profiles of psychosocial risk and disadvantage may benefit the most from engagement in after-school activities. However, these same students are ordinarily the least likely to participate in them (Howard and Madrigal, 1990; Hultzman, 1995; Lindsay, 1984; Mahoney and Cairns, 1997; Quinn, 1999). Economic barriers are salient for some youth. The expense of partici- pation, required transportation, and entrance fees can influence participa-
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190 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS tion rates. These impediments may help to explain the lower rates of participation among adolescents from low-income families. Consistent with this proposal, findings from the New Hope Project (Huston et al., 2001) show that adolescents from poor families that were provided with wage supplements to raise income above the poverty line were significantly more likely to participate in enrichment activities compared with families that did not receive wage supplements. A lack of competence and requisite skill is also an apparent obstacle to engagement in enrichment activities. Peer networks can discourage entry into after-school activities for some less competent children and adolescents (Eder and Parker, 1987; Evans and Eder, 1993; Eder et al., 1995; Jackson and Rucks, 1995; Kinney, 1993). Minimum academic requirements are sometimes needed to participate in after-school activities, and this also constrains opportunities for involvement among students struggling in the classroom (Braddock et al., 1991; Jacobs and Chase, 1989). Because these multiple constraints are interdependent, opportunities for structured after-school activity involvement and its associated benefits may be more limited for young persons from low-income families and disadvantaged areas and those with social or academic problems. More- over, early activity involvement may be required for some forms of later activity participation (McNeal, 1998). Therefore, children who do not (or cannot) become competent in the skills developed through after-school activities and programs early on may find that opportunities for structured after-school involvement diminish across adolescence. Paid Employment During Adolescence Adolescent employment is connected to family and work policies in several ways. First, like after-school enrichment activities, participation in the job force is an increasingly common activity in the after-school hours and during the summer while many parents are working. Second, parental em- ployment, education, and income are positively associated with adolescent employment rates. Third, adolescent employment is positively associated with employment and earnings in young adulthood. Fourth, employment during adolescence appears to influence the psychosocial well-being of young per- sons (although the directionality of the association is mixed). Finally, while adolescents are much less likely to contribute their earnings to the family income than was true in previous generations, as many as 19 percent of employed high school seniors still may do so (Bachman et al., 1987). Rates of Adolescent Employment. Data from the 1997 National Longitudi- nal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) indicate that 63.7 percent of 15-year-olds were employed. However, estimates of adolescent employment do vary by
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 191 Work and on-the-job training can facilitate personal skills (independence, initiative, discipline and structure, multitasking) and interpersonal skills (teamwork) (Newman, 1999:25): Kyesha's experiences at Burger Barn reflect the positive aspects of youth employment: "My mother, she limits the money for clothes. . . . [S]o I had to get a job and get it myself. . . . My family was like, `Ah, Kyesha's becoming independent. I'm proud of her.'. . . So I felt good. I didn't have to ask my mother for money." the data source considered (e.g., Stone and Mortimer, 1998), and the corre- sponding employment rates for 15-year-olds from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) are considerably lower (U.S. Department of Labor, 2000). The discrepancies are presum- ably explained by methodological differences among the CPS, CE, and NLSY97 surveys (i.e., differences in the frequency of assessments and the recall time considered, whether estimates include summer employment, defi- nitions of employment utilized, whether self-reports or proxy reports were used, interview probes involved, etc.). Indeed, when the time frame and informant are the same, the results are more consistent across these surveys. Regardless of the data source consulted, however, it seems safe to conclude that most adolescents participate in paid labor by the end of high school. Across surveys, rates of adolescent employment are found to differ according to demographics. Employment increases with age, and rates are typically higher during the summertime compared with the school year. Gender differences in overall rates of employment are not large; however, males are almost twice as likely as females to work more than 20 hours per week (Lerman, 2000). Ethnic differences are more substantial. Employ- ment rates for white adolescents are considerably higher than for black or Hispanic youth. Foreign-born youth are also less likely to be employed compared with their native-born counterparts; however, foreign-born youth tend to work more hours than native-born youth. Adolescent employment is also associated with parental employment and tends to increase as a function of family income when comparisons are made between low-income and other families. For example, 31 percent of adolescents in families on welfare worked, while 46 percent of adolescents in families at or above 200 percent of the federal poverty level were em- ployed (Lerman, 2000). Likewise, the adolescent employment rate in- creases with parental education. Because ethnicity, family income, and maternal education are nested factors, it is difficult to sort out the indi- vidual contributions of these aspects to adolescent employment.
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192 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS Work Experience and Adolescent Adjustment. Whether and to what ex- tent adolescents should engage in employment continues to be a source of debate. A concern that young persons lack real preparation for work has prompted government initiatives to expand funding to support work-based learning, paid employment, and employer involvement for high school stu- dents--for example, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act of 1994 (e.g., see Donahoe and Tienda, 2000, and Ruhm, 1997). The empirical evidence on this matter is complicated and often mixed. The discussion below focuses on three major areas of adjustment studied in relation to adolescent employment: social behaviors and relationships; school engagement and related outcomes; and future employment, education, and earnings. Social Behaviors and Relationships. An association between work inten- sity (number of hours working) and problem behaviors such as substance use and delinquency is reported in several studies (e.g., Bachman and Schunlenberg, 1993; Greenberger and Steinberg, 1986; Steinberg and Dornbusch, 1991). Adolescents who work long hours (e.g., more than 20 hours per week during the school year) are somewhat more likely to engage in problem behaviors. While most studies demonstrating this relation are cross-sectional and therefore cannot sort out directionality, some longitudi- nal work indicates that increases in work hours precede the increases in problem behaviors (Steinberg et al., 1993; but see also Mortimer et al., 1996). Possible explanations for the link between intensive work and problem- atic adjustment include: (1) a premature acceleration to adult roles and responsibilities that compromises adjustment; (2) an increase in discretion- ary income that may be used to purchase alcohol and drugs; (3) a prefer- ence for disengagement from other conventional institutions and contexts (e.g., school, family, structured enrichment activities); (4) the possibility of forming peer relationships with deviant and older peer coworkers; and (5) unmeasured aspects involved in the selection process (Stone and Mortimer, 1998). It should be noted, however, that relatively little variance in prob- lem behavior is accounted for by employment intensity, and that most employed young persons do not average over 20 hours of work per week. For instance, the NLSY97 reports that 8 percent of 14-year-olds and 17 percent of 15-year-olds worked during the school year and averaged over 15 hours of work per week. Similarly, the CPS data indicate that, across the school year and the summer, the average hours of work per week for adolescents ages 15, 16, and 17 was 11.6, 15.7, and 18.2, respectively. However, two subgroups of adolescents--high school dropouts and for- eign-born youth--are more likely to work long hours (Grogger 2000, 2001). The CPS data indicate that, during the period 1996-1998, employed drop- outs worked an average of 34 hours per week, compared with 15 hours for
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 193 employed students. Similarly, foreign-born youth averaged 24 hours of work per week compared with 18 hours for native-born youth. Steinberg and colleagues (Greenberger and Steinberg, 1986; Steinberg and Dornbusch, 1991) have also noted associations between adolescent employment and family involvement. Employed teenagers tend to provide less assistance with household tasks and spend more time away from the family (see also Manning, 1990). However, there is little basis to conclude that adolescent work disrupts family relationships. Indeed, Mortimer and Shanahan (1994) report a positive relationship between boys' work and closeness to father when the type of employment is perceived as promoting skills and responsibility. In this regard, the quality of employment--the type of work and employment conditions--seems critical. Employment that is perceived as high in quality is, for example, positively associated with the development of intrinsic values for work (Mortimer et al., 1996), mental health, and behavioral adjustment (Mortimer et al., 1992). School Engagement and Related Outcomes. Under most circumstances, working long hours during the school year has been found to be negatively associated with school engagement and performance. This includes more school absence and tardiness, less time spent on homework and reduced grade point average (e.g., Steinberg and Cauffman, 1995; Steinberg and Dornbusch, 1991; Marsh, 1991; Mihalic and Elliot, 1997). These associa- tions tend to be most apparent for boys (Lerman, 2000). However, not all studies find such relations (e.g., Mortimer et al., 1993), the magnitude of associations is often quite small, and selection effects have not always been addressed. Indeed, the negative associations between employment intensity and school performance (i.e., grades, time spent on homework) diminish when preexisting factors are taken into consideration (Schoenhals et al., 1998). Moreover, the association between employment intensity and ado- lescent adjustment is positive in some studies. For example, an increase in work hours is related to fewer hours spent watching television (Schoenhals et al., 1998), and moderately intense employment is associated with home- work completion, school achievement, and low rates of truancy (Lerman, 2000; Stone and Mortimer, 1998). For some adolescents, selection may explain the negative relation be- tween long hours of employment and school success. Students who are less interested or engaged in school may commit themselves to other activities such as more intensive work. This could account for why some studies have found long hours of work to be negatively related to long-term educa- tional attainment (e.g., Carr et al., 1996; Marsh, 1991). For other adoles- cents, spending long hours in employment contexts may affect the educa- tional process through socialization. Because the employment experience is often unrelated to learning activities in the school, intensive employment
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194 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS could introduce a value system that deemphasizes the importance or ben- efits of schooling. Consistent with the socialization explanation, Stone and colleagues (Stone and Mortimer, 1998; Stone et al., 1990) have argued that schools should promote employment opportunities that are more directly connected to school learning experience. Cooperative vocational educa- tional programs represent one possibility. Comparisons of students inten- sively employed in school-based work programs with those in jobs not connected to school find that students in the school-supervised arrange- ment may fare better in terms of achievement (e.g., Stern et al., 1997). The findings are suspect, however, because selection factors that predate choos- ing school-based or nonschool-based employment were not considered. Nonetheless, the notion of supervised work experiences that are connected to school, are structured, involve an adult mentor, and encourage skill development is consistent with the broader literature on positive youth development programs described above. See Donahoe and Tienda, 2000, and Lerman, 1996, for discussions of the types of school-to-work pro- grams, the outcomes associated with participation these programs, and possible benefits of participation for disadvantaged and high-risk youth. Future Employment, Education, and Earnings. In contrast to the possible negative associations between intensive employment during adolescence and secondary school adjustment, a long-term perspective shows that em- ployment during high school is positively associated with future employ- ment, earnings and benefits, and occupational status in the decade follow- ing high school graduation (e.g., Ruhm, 1997; Chaplin and Hannaway, 1996; Carr et al., 1996; Wright and Carr, 1995). For example, Ruhm (1997) found that seniors who worked an average of 20 hours per week earned 22 percent more in annual income 6 to 9 years after graduation than high school students who were not employed. Similarly, Chaplin and Hannaway (1996) found that the future earnings of youth who were low achievers in high school and worked at moderate intensity during their sophomore year was 25 percent higher 8 to 11 years later compared with similar students that did not work. The above studies are noteworthy since a variety of demographic and individual factors that predated adolescent employment were included to account for possible selection differences between employed and nonemployed adolescents. However, it should be noted that both high-intensity employment dur- ing high school and lack of employment during high school are related to decreased levels of secondary or postsecondary education (Ahituv et al., 1998; Carr et al., 1996; Tienda and Ahituv, 1996; Ruhm, 1997). Thus, the possible long-term benefits of adolescent employment in terms of increased employment and income observed during the third decade of life must be weighed against the short-term negative associations of intense employ-
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 195 ment during adolescence. In addition, when econometric selection models are applied to consider unobserved heterogeneity and sample selectivity, the positive associations between adolescent employment and later employ- ment and earnings are diminished (Hotz et al., in press). Finally, whether gains in employment or earnings associated with adolescent employment persist to the fourth decade of life (ages 30 to 40) is not yet known. Parental Occupation and Adolescent Career Choice. A final point con- cerning the future employment of adolescents is the possibility that parent occupations affect young persons' career choices. Some research suggests that, for girls, maternal employment is related to high educational and career aspirations (Hoffman, 1974, 1989). This general finding may be partly dependent on the extent to which working mothers are satisfied with their employment arrangement, as the combination of maternal role satis- faction, educational attainment, and occupational prestige appears to be particularly indicative of high career aspirations for young persons (Castellino et al., 1998). However, studies have also reported small nega- tive associations between maternal employment and boys' adjustment. Reasons for the gender difference may involve girls' being more likely to positively identify with and be influenced by maternal employment, more negative consequences of low supervision for boys, and the possible ben- efits of increased household responsibilities that are more likely to be taken on by girls when their mothers are working. Adolescents' perceptions of fathers' work, however, has been linked to adolescent work values (Galambos and Sears, 1998), which in turn influence adolescent career decisions and aspirations (Ryu and Mortimer, 1996). Parental Employment, Parent-Adolescent Relationships, and Adjustment Research on the link between parental employment, parent-adolescent relationships, and adolescent adjustment reveals a complex pattern of asso- ciations that varies according to family income level, economic strain, the features of employment, and the adolescent's gender (Crouter et al., 1990; Galambos and Sears, 1998). Most of the research has focused on maternal employment and adolescent adjustment. However, as fathers are also em- ployed in most families, the studies tend to inform understanding of what happens when both parents work rather than pinpointing the role of mater- nal employment on adolescent functioning. It should also be noted that the literature on maternal employment and adolescent functioning is presently fragmented and often inconsistent, rendering it difficult to make strong conclusions concerning the conditions under which maternal employment may affect young persons. Employment has been defined in different ways; the characteristics of the family ecology, the parent(s), and the adolescent
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196 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS have typically not been assessed in tandem; and the characteristics of mater- nal employment (e.g., wages, work schedules, job satisfaction and complex- ity, etc.) have not been examined in detail. Having noted the above limitations, overall, the difference in adjust- ment of adolescents whose mothers are employed and who are not em- ployed seems marginal (Orthner, 1991; Armistead et al., 1990). For in- stance, in areas such as sexual attitudes or behaviors (Wright et al., 1990; Nelson and Keith, 1990), the use of illicit substances (Hillman and Sawilosky, 1991), social competence (Armistead et al., 1990), behavior problems (Ross Phillips, 2002a), and susceptibility to peer pressure (Hillman et al., 1993) adolescents with mothers who are employed are similar to adolescents whose mothers are not. However, as discussed earlier, the general association is more substantial when parental supervision and after- school arrangements are considered. One area of adolescent adjustment that may be influenced by maternal employment is school achievement. The association varies by both income level and gender (e.g., Bogenschneider and Steinberg, 1994; Conger et al., 1994). Middle-class adolescent sons (but not daughters) of full-time em- ployed mothers have been found to show lower overall grades (Bogenschneider and Steinberg, 1994; Bronfenbrenner and Crouter, 1982; Montemayor, 1984). Based on maternal reports, recent investigations among lower income families involved in welfare-to-work programs show that adolescents have somewhat poorer academic achievement, higher en- rollment in special education, and increased rates of grade retention (Brooks et al., 2001; Schaefer, 2001). Using a meta-analytic strategy, Gennetian et al. (2002b) have demonstrated similar results. These negative findings, while small in magnitude and not entirely consistent across all studies, are surprising given that other studies have found that mothers who are em- ployed full-time report spending more time on homework with their adoles- cents compared with mothers who are not employed (e.g., Maryse and Duckett, 1994). One possible explanation is that adolescents with em- ployed mothers from low-income families spend more time assuming adult roles and responsibilities, including caring for younger siblings. Gennetian et al. (2002b) provide evidence consistent with this proposal. The negative association between maternal employment and school outcomes was most marked for adolescents with younger siblings. While work-related stress for mothers does not appear to impact ado- lescent adjustment (Galambos and Maggs, 1991), the influence of employ- ment (or the lack thereof) on the parent-adolescent relationship may partly explain the differences associated with gender and income. For instance, maternal employment for middle-income families has been associated with stronger father-adolescent relationships and more positive affect in mother- adolescent relationships (Richards and Duckett, 1994; Duckett and Maryse,
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PARENTAL EMPLOYMENT AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT 197 1995). The same may not be true for adolescents in low-income families (Paulson et al., 1990). In addition, changes in employment, work interrup- tion, and financial strain may negatively affect parent-adolescent relation- ships, parenting practices, and adolescent adjustment (Gutman and Eccles, 1999; McLoyd et al., 1994). This may be particularly true for boys and when overt behaviors, such as achievement and aggression, are considered (Conger et al., 1997; Skinner et al., 1992; Elder et al., 1995). SUMMARY Adolescence is characterized by a number of salient developmental tasks that are negotiated in light of interdependent changes in individual functioning, expanding social contexts, and biopyschosocial transitions. While most young persons negotiate these tasks successfully, some do not. Because adolescence is also a time when many problem behaviors increase in severity and consequence, understanding how families and employment impede or facilitate success during adolescence is critical. There are three main ways in which parental employment may influ- ence adolescent adjustment: (1) parental supervision, child care arrange- ments, and responsibilities while parents are working; (2) access to super- vised activities and contexts; and (3) parenting practices that may influence the parent-adolescent relationship. While in-home self-care becomes increasingly common from late child- hood through adolescence, there is little empirical basis for concluding that this arrangement is detrimental for adolescents. However, to the extent that young persons who experience self-care are prone to problem behav- iors, or parents do not monitor their unsupervised endeavors, the risk for negative developmental consequences may increase. Available research on adolescent engagement in structured enrichment activities suggests that beneficial programs offer opportunities to develop positive relationships with peers and adults, a sense of belonging and con- nectedness to conventional values, and the opportunity to develop valued skills. Young persons who are able to engage in structured, supervised, and skill-focused activities show more favorable outcomes than their unengaged counterparts. Unstructured programs, however, may not only fail to offer these benefits, but they may also amplify existing problems or encourage the development of new problems. Students who are at the highest risk for developing problems during adolescence tend to show low rates of partici- pation in enrichment activities. Barriers to participation for these young persons are multiple (e.g., economic, social, lack of skills or experience). Most adolescents will participate in the paid labor force by the end of high school. Although intensive work (e.g., more than 20-25 hours per week) has been linked to increased problem behaviors and low
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198 WORKING FAMILIES AND GROWING KIDS postsecondary educational attainment, this is not representative of most adolescents' work experience. In addition, moderately intense employment during adolescence is linked to positive adjustment during high school and to high rates of employment and earnings in young adulthood. Work that is moderate in intensity, connected to school, and offers an adult-supervised learning experience may be optimal. In conclusion, the overall associations between parental employment, parent-adolescent relationships, and adjustment tend to be marginal. How- ever, the magnitude and direction of association differs by gender and family income level and is likely to vary according to levels of parent supervision and the adolescents' after-school activities and social relationships.
Representative terms from entire chapter: