Having a close relationship with your parents when you’re a moody, malleable 15-year-old has now been linked to being a better worker later on in life.
A study in the Journal of General Psychology looked into how parents influence their teenagers’ approach to work when they become adults. The result: having the social support of one’s parents could make the children look to work harder as adults, the study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands were building off of studies that have found that, “children with a positive relationship with either parent might internalize their parents’ norms and values.”
The study supports previous research from the University of Michigan’s Wayne Baker that says that we inherit our parents’ views of work, and a Harvard study that says that daughters of working moms tend to become high achievers and earn more money.
How a work ethic is made: in the home
In 2006 and 2007, researchers surveyed 3841 adults in the Netherlands and asked them about their relationships with their parents when they were 15 years old, and about their current values about work. People who had good relationships would strongly agree with statements like, “I always felt that my mother [father] supported me.”
Overall, adults who had positive relationships with their parents would be more likely to answer positively about statements around work orientation and work ethic like, “I find it very important to do my job well” or “if people want to enjoy life, they should also be prepared to work hard for it.”
Fathers are more influential to work values, at least in Dutch society
For people in the Netherlands, researchers concluded that “the relationship with the father is more central to the development of children’s work values than the relationship with the mother.” Both men and women found that their fathers shaped their work ethic more than their mothers.
Of course, not every culture is like this. The researchers acknowledged that one of the limitations of their study is the “generalizability of our results to people from other cultures or countries.”
In the Netherlands, less than 10% of women work full-time. Moreover, Slate found that 25% of Dutch women are not financially independent, and rely on men to be breadwinners. So with fewer working women role models, it makes sense why teenagers growing up there see their fathers more as working role models.
People in the Netherlands will also be retiring later since the age to get a pension will be raised from age 65 to 67 in 2023. That fact was cited as one of the researchers’ reasons for doing the study: so that managers and employers can study what keeps their hard-working employees happier and healthier.
That doesn’t mean that you can blame your parents if you’re lazy, of course. It just means that people with hardworking parents have a headstart on working life.