It pays to work in more ways than simply in dollars. When parents engage reliable, nurturing caregivers, working doesn't have the negative effect on preschoolers that many believe.
A UK study reported in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Healthevaluated 12,000 young children at three different stages-infancy, age three, and age five. Ann McMunn, the lead researcher, concluded that a mother's job does not harm children's social and emotional behavior. The finding should be comforting for parents who worry that their absence will affect their young children's development. If anything, having a working mother was a benefit.
The most beneficial outcomes for boys and girls were seen in homes with two employed parents; their children exhibited the least emotional and behavior problems. The results were independent of a mother's education or household income. Working mothers, whether they work because they need to or because they want to, can relax and enjoy both their "roles."
This post is not meant to ignite the Mommy Wars, but rather to reassure working mothers and that includes some 64 percent of mothers who work and have children under age six. The study and earlier ones are convincing in concluding that sons and daughters will not suffer emotionally, socially, or have more behavioral problems than children who have stay-at-home parents. It could be that a working mother's income helps reduce the family's financial stress. That in turn, creates a happier, calmer atmosphere for growing children.
McMunn and her colleagues also discovered that daughters with moms in the workforce had better outcomes than sons. One reason might be that working mothers may portray a model of action and discipline for daughters to emulate.
7 Ways Working Parents Build Bonds with Their Children
The results certainly encourage women to put aside the guilt they feel about the hours spent away from their children. However, today many working parents are tethered to their offices by technology and feel they have little time to bond with their children. Here are ways for mothers and fathers to carve out the time they need for their youngsters and keep connections to their children strong.
Copyright 2011 by Susan Newman
McMunn, A., Kelly, Y., Noriko, C., & Bartley, M. Maternal employment and child socio-emotional behaviour in the UK: longitudinal evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, January, 2011.