Working parents say both on job very often a minus for families

Despite serious concerns about the state of the nation, the vast majority of US family members feel things are going well for them. But many believe the growing trend of both parents working has had a negative effect on the family.

So says "Families At Work: Strengths and Strains," a report based on a new national study sponsored by General Mills Inc. and conducted by Louis Harris and Associates Inc.

This survey, released May 6, is the fourth in a series of studies on the American family that General Mills first undertook in 1974. It is an effort to "show our concern for the society whose strength makes possible our economic growth," says H. Brewster Atwater Jr., the company's chief executive officer.

A national cross section of 1,505 adult family members, 203 teen-agers, 104 human resources executives, 56 labor leaders, 49 socalled "pro-family traditionalists," and 52 leaders of women's rights organizations were surveyed.

Major findings:

* Not since the corporation's first report on the American family in 1974-75 have family members perceived so great a difference between "the state of affairs at home and across the land," the report says. Despite doubledigit inflation, 91 percent of all family members now feel a great deal of satisfaction with their standard of living; only 33 percent feel comfortable with the way the nation is running. In 1975, 83 percent of the family members surveyed were happy with family life but only 18 percent felt things were going well in the US.

* Of 583 working men surveyed, 55 percent said they thought the result of both parents working was a generally "negative effect" on families; 44 percent of working women had similar feelings. This comes at a time the report notes, when an more women are working --

Most of the working women surveyed said they would prefer to continue on the job even if there were no economic necessity for it. But the majority also said they would prefer to work only part-time.

* Seven out of 10 teen-agers insisted that working parents had no negative effects on them. But a majority of teens felt that both parents working was detremental to children under 12. Teens with both parents working saw the positive benefits of better income.

Most women's rights organization leaders, however, and a majority of working mothers, the survey found, feel that both parents working has positive and no negative effects at all on families. "Positive effects ar seen to be fulfillment of women, added financial secur ity, improved family communications, and independence for children," the report states.

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