When compared to other parents, partners of FIFO workers experience higher levels of stress. FIFO workers are often working away from home for four to six weeks at any one time. Studies have also found that FIFO partners are more likely to use harsh discipline when it comes to handling their children.
Often, the FIFO partners who are at home with the children while their partners are away are more anxious, stressed, and prone to depression, compared to other parents in the community. They carry the weight of the responsibility, making the decisions, as well as running around behind everyone. This increases the risk of burnout.
A limited but increasing amount of research into fly-in fly-out work practices cautiously suggests that a FIFO lifestyle can either have negative, positive or few effects on family relationships and children depending on the specific conditions.
Effects vary due to a range of factors like rosters and recruitment practices, workplace cultures, as well as community and home environments, and individual physiognomies. As a result, there is a very high level of intricacy involved in comprehending the FIFO lifestyle and how it impacts on family relationships.
Potential impacts on children include negative emotions experienced because of the parent’s absence, greater levels of bullying, amplified levels of behaviour problems and augmented pressure to succeed educationally. However, some children see the extended time that fly-in fly-out parents have at home as a positive consequence.
However, the strength of the relationship can hold more influence over the function of a family than the work schedule. This can increase the stress and anxiety that a FIFO partner experiences, as when their fly in fly out working partner is home they may not pick up the slack that’s necessary. Certainly, when workers are home for just one week there is less time to spend with the family, adding more pressure to the FIFO partner. While many companies offer to support a lot of the workers are hesitant to discuss their struggles.
Of course, every situation faced by FIFO families and is unique and solutions are dependent on their situation and needs. The greatest asset to these families lies in their ability to communicate with each other and open up about the struggles they face.