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Long-distance parenting: The impact of parental separation and absence due to work commitments on families
chapterposted on 12.03.2020, 00:00 by Cassandra Dittman
This chapter reviews the theory and research related to the impact of parental separation due to work commitments on family life, with a particular focus on two categories of parental work absences: (1) long-distance commuting; and (2) military service and deployment. There is significant diversity both between and within these categories of parental absence in terms of length and timing of separation, the context and reasons for separation, and the risks associated with the parent’s employment. However, they are characterized by challenges not generally experienced by other working families, including transitions in family routines and parenting roles and responsibilities, reliance on the functioning of the athome parent or family member, and ongoing disruptions to parent–child relationships. The impact of these transitions and disruptions is only beginning to be understood. This chapter reviews the research on the effects of parental absence due to work on parenting, family relationships, and child adjustment, and aims to identify factors that influence outcomes for families. Note that in the vast majority of the literature, the absent parent is the father, and the at-home parent is the mother; exceptions to this are noted throughout the review. The chapter also highlights areas for further research, and concludes with evidence based recommendations for policy and practice.