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FIFO Parents are Bad Parents
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“FIFO Parents are bad parents” is a statement we really dislike hearing.
We know that a FIFO (fly-in-fly-out work arrangement) lifestyle often gets a bad rap for having a negative impact on family life and relationships. Some studies have even found higher stress levels in families around the time the FIFO partner is about to return home or leave for their next swing (swings can vary from as little as 8 days away, 6 days at home to as much as 6 weeks away, 1 week at home).
While we know working away from home can suck at times, it is something we have had a lot of practice at, and find we can manage quite well at the moment, while it is just the two of us. What we’re not sure of, is how this arrangement will look, and how we will feel about it, once we have kids.
What we’re really interested to know is, will the FIFO lifestyle have a negative impact on our kids?
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has examined some of the research in this area (there isn’t a lot, but enough to get a bit of an idea) and the findings are quite interesting!
Despite what we might think, some kids of FIFO parents have actually reported that they get to spend more quality time with their parents when they are home, compared to kids who have both their parents home at all times.
In terms of the impact on mental health and well-being, one study found no difference on measures of anxiety, depression or perception of family functioning between children whose parents live at home, compared with parents who are FIFO. Another study found little evidence to support an impact on emotional functioning and behaviour of children whose parents are FIFO (there could be a relationship between children’s behaviour and parents who are away for over 4 weeks at a time, but there isn’t really enough evidence to support this).
Lastly, the AIFS also mention a study which found that children of FIFO families are more likely to experience bullying, concerns with body image, be more demanding of their parents when it comes to asking for money, clothes, and technology, and the children may also feel more pressure to be successful when it comes to academics and extra-curricular activities. Personally, I think these findings are more likely to be due to other factors (such as the parents’ socio-economic status, level of academic achievement and expectations set in their family), however, since I’m not sure if any of these factors were controlled for in the study I will refrain from arguing the point!
So, should we avoid a FIFO lifestyle for the sake of our kids?
My thoughts, based on the info above are “no”!
I really think there are so many other factor’s that can impact on your kids, that are more likely to outweigh the (minimal) negative effects of being away from home for short periods of a time.
In saying that though, this is something we are yet to try, and we are keen to hear from others who have experienced the FIFO lifestyle.
We’d love to know if working FIFO has had an impact on your family and kids. Let us know by commenting below (if you want to comment, but don’t want people to know who you are, just use an alias or write your name as “anonymous”).
Look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences!
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