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Nearly a third of people aged 35-44 think working shorter hours would improve family relationship, according to a survey by Relate and TalkTalk.
The survey found that people in their late 30s and early 40s are the unhappiest in society with more than one in five saying they feel lonely a lot of the time.
The Way We Are Now, a report into the state of the UK’s relationships, takes an in-depth look into the nation’s relationships with their families, friends, partners and work colleagues.
The report found that those aged 35-44 came out worst of any age group in a number of key areas, including the following:
– 22% wish they had a better relationship with their family and the same number feel closer to their friends than to their family;
– 30% think their family relationships would improve if they could reduce their working hours;
– 25% wish they had more time for their family and 23% wish they had more time for their friends;
– 28% have left a job because of a bad relationship with a colleague;
The research also reveals how parenting techniques are changing as this age group increasingly utilise modern communication methods. More than a fifth (22%) of parents aged 35-44 use social networks like Facebook and MySpace to keep in contact with their children, nearly one in 25 of them (4%) stay in touch with their kids via Skype or similar webcam-based systems, and over half (56%) by mobile phone.
Yet despite the increase in communications methods, many had communication problems.
Claire Tyler, CEO of Relate, commented on the findings: “Traditionally we associate the midlife crisis with people in their late 40s to 50s, but the report reveals that this period could be reaching people earlier than we would expect. And it’s no coincidence this is the largest age group we see at Relate.
“It’s when life gets really hard – you’re starting a family, pressure at work can be immense and increasingly money worries can be crippling. We cannot afford to sit back and watch this happen. The ensuing effects of relationship breakdown on society are huge, so it’s really important that this age group has access to appropriate and relevant support, be that through friends and family or other methods such as counselling.
“That said, it’s reassuring to see that actually one in five 35 to 44 year olds have made lifelong friends through work and the same number again say that the satisfaction they get from work improves their relationships outside of it.”
Tristia Clarke, Commercial Director of TalkTalk, said: “People in their late 30s and early 40s are a time-poor generation. Long hours at work means they have less time to spend face to face with friends and family, so they are shifting to newer communications methods to fill the gap, even for their parenting.”