Introduction In many Arab countries, including Qatar, the family is an important institution and the corner stone of society. The family is particularly important for all individuals including working parents who find challenges in balancing between their work and the family. Work-family balance is an issue, which remains a central for all employed parents and employers alike. With the global economic downturn, work-family balance continues to be of great importance to societies because in more countries women's' labor force participation has increased. It is a key challenge to sustain a balance between the family and the work and to retain time to properly care for the young, old and vulnerable members of the family groups (O'Brien 2012). The potential effects of work-family balance on families and on working parents in particular may be numerous. Previous research has found that parents with more work-family conflict felt less competent in their role as parents. Therefore, those parents with high work-family conflict may suffer from a reduction in parental, marital, and life satisfaction related to their inability to carry out the nurturing role associated with being a “good” parent (Erdwin et al 2001). However, none of this research is conducted in Qatar and only few studies has been in the Arab region on the issue of work –family balance. This research gap is problematic since reports suggest that employed parents, single parents, widows, divorcees, single women face challenges in balancing between their work and their families (Greenhaus et al 2003). Thus, how can we meet the needs of working employees between their work and their families? Purpose: This study addresses this aforementioned gap in social scientific inquiry by investigating the experiences of Qatari families working and having families. More specifically, we focus on exploring how working parents balance between work and family and the challenges they face. As such, this research focuses on the lived experiences of the working parents and the consequences for working parents to have a satisfactory balance between work and family and the conflict that arises, coping strategies and resources available for working parents. This study will add to the literature on work and family balance by providing knowledge about the unique cultural context of working and performing tasks within the family in Qatar. This study will address this research gap by investigating the experiences of Qatari working parents working and taking care of their family members whether children, old people, parents etc. More specifically, the research will focus on the stresses, burden and coping of work and family care. Theoretical framework and Method There are two clusters of approaches in the literature which examined work-family balance. One cluster focused on how family demands affect work and much of the writing in the management literature followed this approach. The other cluster examines the different ways work impact the family. They belief that the structure, stresses, and demands of work can make it more difficult for individuals to fulfill their family responsibility as well as experiencing job stress at home. Some refer this to as the spill over approach. The most popular view of relationship between work and family was put forth by Spillover theory (Walia 2012). Several researchers suggested that workers carry the emotions, attitudes, skills and behaviors that they establish at work into their family life (Belsky et al., 1985; Kelly and Voydanoff,1985) and vice-versa (Belsky et al.,1985; Crouter, 1984). In addition, Greenhaus and Beutell (1985) gave a model of the sources of work family conflict. They suggested three major sources of work family conflict (a) time based conflict (b) strain based conflict and (c) behavior based conflict. The model proposed that any role characteristic that affects person's time involvement, strain or behavior within a role, can produce conflict between that role and another role. According to the model, work domain pressures include the number of hours worked, inflexibility of the work schedule, role conflict, role ambiguity, expectations for secretiveness and objectivity and family domain pressures include the number of children, spouse employment, family conflict, low spouse support and expectations for warmth and openness (Greenhaus et al 2003). Because this study aimed to explore the challenges and experiences of working parents in balancing between work and family, this research employed a qualitative and quantitiative research design in order to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon under study; it relied mainly on participants' views of the situation being studied and draws attention to its complexity (Creswell, 2003). In this paper, we will present the qualitative data. Aligned with qualitative research, this study therefore used an inductive approach to generating knowledge by beginning with interviews and moving towards identifying patterns based on the experiences of participants (Rudestam & Newton, 2001). Utilizing qualitative, semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions based on the methodological approach of transcendental phenomenology can assist in gaining a better understanding of the themes that arise in peoples' descriptions of work family and balance, the stressors, benefits, and coping strategies and resources for this sample of working parents. Findings: In total, we interviewed 20 Qatari (10 males and 10 females) aging in range from 30-60 years. The findings reported in this presentation/poster focus on the different stressors and challenges of working and taking care of family members. Among them are conflict in balancing between work and family life, long working hours, stressful duties, parental responsibilities, vacations, family obligations, child caring, commitment to work, gender equality, maternity and paternity leaves, coping strategies and resources available. We will discuss the implications from these findings and recommendations for policy changes.


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