Mean Bosses Can Make You A Mean Mommy

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Everyone has probably had a bad boss once or twice in their life, right? Someone who is rude to them, dismissive, takes credit for their work or cuts them out of networking or specific teams. Now new research says that boss won’t just impact your work, they will impact how you treat your kids.

According to a new study that was prevented at the American Psychological Association in California, women who experience “incivility” at work are more likely to be meaner parents. The study states that women who experience incivility in the workplace are stricter and have a more authoritarian parenting style at home, which can negatively impact their children.

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

Merriam-Webster defines incivility as being:

  1. The quality or state of being uncivil
  2. A rude or discourteous act.

Incivility at work would include purposely ignoring coworkers, making derogatory comments, taking credit for someone else’s work, blaming others for your mistakes, avoiding someone in particular, or shutting people out of a team or workplace network.

The research looked at 146 working mothers and their spouses. Mothers were asked about their experiences with workplace incivility and their feelings of effectiveness in parenting. Their spouses reported on the mother’s negative parenting behavior, which included authoritative parenting and permissive parenting.

The results of the study showed a major association between experiencing a negative workplace environment with incivility and authoritative parenting. No association was found with permissive parenting.

“Research suggests that authoritarian parenting is more of a negative style of parenting as compared to other parenting styles,” explains Dupre. “This style of parenting has been associated with a variety of negative child outcomes, including associating obedience and success with love, exhibiting aggressive behavior 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.”

The researchers also cited that experiencing incivility at work left mothers feeling less effective as parents. This may explain the increased need to control children and exhibit authoritative behaviors.

Dupre said that many people would dismiss incivility as someone being rude or just being a jerk, but the impacts are greater than that.

“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,” she said. “We now know, based on much empirical evidence, that the outcomes of workplace incivility are vast and negative. For example, 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.”

The research also added that authoritarian parents tend to have a lot of rules and micromanage almost every aspect of their children’s lives. They value discipline over fun and this style or parenting has been associated with a variety of negative childhood outcomes.

The outcomes may include associating obedience and success with love, exhibiting aggressive behavior outside of the home, being fearful or shy around other people, having a difficult time in social situations, increased depression and anxiety and struggling with self-control.

“Authoritarian parents have high expectations of their children, with rules that they expect their children to follow unconditionally,” Dupre said. “At the same time, though, they provide very little in the way of feedback and nurturance and harshly punish any mistakes.”

So, is someone at work making you a mean mommy? Or, are you doing it to someone else?

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  1. It is sooo hard not to take it out on others when we’re frustrated, even when the two parts of our lives are separate. We can’t compartmentalize like that unfortunately. I really hope I never take it out on my daughter, but I know how hard it is-sometimes I’ll be so exhausted from a week of working and taking care of baby, that I have less patience with my step kids than I’d like.

  2. It’s so hard to know exactly how to parent. It’s the hardest job in the world. Of course, you don’t want to give your kids a life without consequences, and yet, you have to be careful that those consequences are just that – consequences – and not an extension of anger or other negative emotions. Of course, you also want the kids to know how much you love them as well. It’s tough and it’s scary sometimes.

  3. wow, what an interesting insight! I can totally see how having to deal with a mean boss can have an impact on you as a parent or even as a human being! You get all that bad energy and release it on someone else 🙁

  4. I can definitely see how that kind of incivility could affect home life. This is interesting! It’s definitely worth investigating when you’re feeling on edge at home.

  5. Yup I totally believe it. I would get home so exhausted from work that anything would send me off! My kids would have to deal with my wrath if it was one of those day at work. Now I’m a stay at home mom and feel so much better.

  6. I worked out of the home for many years, and have had my fair share of mean bosses. It’s every parent’s responsibility to know how to manage work and home, even when you don’t like work you can’t take that out on your children.

  7. I’m not a parent, but I’ve had mean bosses, that’s for sure. I’ve also seen how my friends that are parents react to their stressful work days and take it out on their kids. Great post!

  8. What a fascinating read! I’ve been lucky to not have many bosses and the ones I had were a-ok! I believe it could translate over intui parenting though!

  9. I have to say, this makes so much sense. I know I can be a strict parent sometimes and have had harder bosses in the past than my sister who isn’t as strict. I try so hard not to take any frustrations out on my boys, but some days I succeed better than others. I’ve been working for myself since my oldest was born, but it’s still not always easy.

  10. This is a really interesting point I hadn’t considered before, but it makes perfect sense. As much as we want to separate work and home, we’re humans and our stresses carry over.

  11. This is unfortunately true. When I’m super stressed at work I find myself taking it out on the kids or my husband. I’ve been better but it sucks when it happens.

  12. What interesting statistics. After reading this I can see how that type of work environment can affect how you are at home.

  13. Do you watch How I Met Your Mother? In not so well articulated terms, they touch upon this. They call it the “Chain of Screaming” with a trickle down effect of being yelled at during the work day. Definitely something to keep in mind if you have a more hostile work environment.

  14. What an interesting study! I could see how experiencing a mean boss and workplace “incivility” could lead to parents taking out their workplace frustrations and anger on their children via authoritarian parenting, etc. I am currently a SAHM, but I will keep this study in mind if I return to the workforce.

  15. So true! I’ve experienced it myself and it really affected how I am at home. I was always on the edge and it wasn’t healthy. `

  16. I’ve been so guilty of this at times! Its SO hard not to bring work stuff home and take it out on the ones we love. Thank you for helping me realized this, and to do better.

  17. I believe that our day has an impact on how we treat others. I hope that people are able to recognize how to cope with this so they don’t allow it to burden how they treat their children.

  18. This is a wonderful reading! Sometimes we forget to leave our work behind and never bring home any bad or unhealthy situation happened during our work day.

  19. Such a unique take on parenting. I have a good boss right now, so I’ve never really experienced this, but I can definitely relate to having been treated poorly through the day and trying my best not to take out my anger/frustrations on my kids. Always remember to leave your work and outside life behind/out of sight when dealing with the kids.

  20. I hate how bosses just add to the stress of being a mom. You would think they would not go easy on you, but be understanding st the bare minimum.

  21. Wow! I definitely see the correlation between the two. Even when I get frustrated at work because of how I’m being treated, I have noticed I do tend to take it out on my husband.

  22. Very interesting study. I still remember those days and I’ve experienced it myself. I am so glad that I don’t have to work for anybody in the office.

  23. What an interesting read. I think it is like anything, when a boss or in fact anyone is mean to someone, it impacts them and causes stress and strain on the mind and body even if they dont think so at the time x


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