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Be Nice

Being rude and mean to a co-worker can have very negative effects on their children

A new study suggests that experience of workplace incivility can directly impact on a person’s parenting style.

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WORKERS WHO HAVE been the subject of rudeness or bad behaviour on behalf of their co-workers risk their children being impacted, a new study reveals.

The research, presented to the American Psychological Association by academics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, suggests that those who ‘experience’ incivility in the workplace are more likely to subject their children to stricter, authoritarian parenting practices, which could have a negative impact on their children as a consequence.

Workplace incivility comprises any behaviour that is “rude, disrespectful, impolite or otherwise violates workplace norms of respect” and shows a lack of concern for others according to the researchers.

Examples include making derogatory remarks, passing blame, avoiding or shutting people out, and claiming credit for the work of others.

“These findings reveal some previously undocumented ways that women, in particular, suffer as a result of workplace aggression,” said Angela Dionisi of Carleton.

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.

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers conducted a survey of 146 working mothers and their spouses.

The mothers were asked about their experiences of rude and incivil behaviour in the workplace, while their spouses were asked to report on the women’s negative parenting behaviours – both strict and overly permissive.

Strict parenting

The results suggested a firm connection between strict parenting and poor workplace experiences. No association was made between workplace experiences and permissive parenting.

They also suggested that experiencing rudeness in the workplace made women question their effectiveness as parents.

The behaviour is all the more insidious as it comprises actions that are generally not considered to be ‘the worst’, as it were.

“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,” says Dionisi.

Our findings, however, suggest that this low-intensity behavior can actually erode one’s sense of parental competence, and as a result, may also be harming one’s children in a vicarious way.

Authoritarian parents have high expectations for their children, but provide little feedback or nurture to their dependents, the researchers said.

This has been associated with negative outcomes for children, including “associating obedience and success with love, exhibiting aggressive behaviour outside the home, being fearful or overly shy around others, having difficulty in social situations due to a lack of social competence, suffering from depression and anxiety, and struggling with self-control”, according to Dionisi’s co-author at Carleton Kathryn Dupre.

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