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How Are Children Affected With a Night Shift Working Parent?

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
How Are Children Affected With a Night Shift Working Parent?
Sleep Photo Credit: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

The overnight shift can be a physically and emotionally demanding time of night for individuals to work, yet it has become more common in recent years. Some parents may resign themselves to working this shift, sometimes called the third shift, as a means of financially supporting their family. But this can have an effect on any children you may have as well as your relationship to them.

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Third-Shift Consequences

Parents who work the overnight shift create an atypical home environment. If one parent is home with the child, that parent is likely losing interaction time with the other parent. If a single parent or both parents work an overnight shift, a babysitter is needed to stay with the child, which can cut into the family's income, reducing quality of life and increasing stress among all family members.

Struggles of Parents

The relationships of parents can affect a child as a result of the growing tension and unhappiness present in the home. This is likely to occur because of the reduced face time between the parents. In addition, according to, parents are more likely to argue over chores and other responsibilities if they do not work on the same time schedule. Children can pick up on this discontent, and it can strain their relationship with one or both parents.

Time Availability

Individuals who work the night shift often come home and sleep during the day. But children remain on a schedule of sleeping at night and being awake during the day. This creates a small window for a parent to interact with their child. A parent may often feel too busy or tired to spend time with his child in addition to fewer available hours in the day. This can reduce a child's familiarity with a parent, particularly if they are young.

Parenting Quality

According to a report published by Princeton University, the stress and fatigue of working an overnight shift can cause what is called a "spill-over effect." This effect occurs when the strains of working the third shift spill over into family relationships and parenting. Parents may take out their stress on their parents or assign unearned blame onto them, which can damage the relationship.

Deterioration of Relationship

Over time, the combination of various negative factors can seriously deteriorate the relationship between a parent and a child. Night shifts are a difficult way for any parent to support their children financially due to the ways in which the children are deprived emotionally. If working a night shift is unavoidable, being conscious of the possible risks and tendencies of a parent-child relationship undergoing this strain can help you guard against souring your relationship with your child.

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