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Catholic call for 'family friendly workplaces'

Employers, including the church, need to develop "family friendly workplaces" to help children worried about the stress experienced by their working parents, according to a leading Catholic counsellor in South Australia.

The Southern Cross reports that Pauline Frick, head of Whyalla's Centacare Catholic Family Services, said this was a major finding to emerge from a recent conference examining the impact of work on families.

Overseas and Australian research presented to the conference showed that while children accepted the need for parents to work, children had a skewed view of work pressures and worried about what they perceived as the stress experienced by their parents.

"Kids are more sensitive than people think to many issues affecting their parents, including stress," Ms Frick said. "Some children surveyed said they could tell by the way mum or dad came in the door, how they dropped their bag on the floor, what sort of day they had just had. Some even ring to see what sort of mood their parents are in before they get home from work."

Ms Frick, who advises the federal government on issues of family and marriage, said the findings were discussed at a national conference called "Family and Work - Listening to Our Children". The conference discussed recent research by US family researcher Ellen Galinski that canvassed the views of about 5000 children on their views of their working parents.

More than 80% of children questioned said they "wished mum and dad were less stressed".

"It's not about whether their parents should work, it's about how that work impacts on the children," Ms Frick said.

Southern Cross