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The study examines if and how much parents affect the work lives of their adult children and whether they affect our view of work as just a job, as a means towards more money, or as something that has purpose and meaning to life as a whole.
It was no surprise to the researchers that their investigation showed parents do in fact have a primary influence on our views towards work. Kathryn Dekas, of Google’s “people analytics” team and Wayne Baker, Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan, are the authors of the paper.
What surprised them was how differently mothers and fathers influence our work views. (At least in families with two parents of different genders.) Mothers were shown to play a significant role in raising children who view work as meaningful and then grow up to find great satisfaction in their personal and professional lives as adults.
In an editorial for the Washington Post, Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative, writes that the research indicates “children are not as likely to have a purpose-driven view of work unless they perceive their mother to model that behavior.” Additionally, the findings show a close bond with mothers also means we see material gain as less important in our work lives.
Fathers with that same purpose-driven view didn’t have as strong an influence as mothers, according to the study. The research also shows that fathers who have a view of work which conflicts with a mother’s purpose-driven view, such as dads who view money as the most important reason to work, could make it harder for a child to think of work as meaningful.
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