5 Ways Children Benefit from Having a Working Mom
Last week I shared some of my struggles transitioning back to work after maternity leave. This transition left me contemplating: what are the benefits to my children of having a working mother? Quick caveat, this is nothing against any stay-at-home-moms and absolutely not meant to imply there are no benefits from staying at home with your children. Like everything in life, there are pros and cons of both choices. Your job is hard, and it never ends. I see you!
However, for those struggling with guilt over leaving their child for many of their waking hours – many of whom have no other option – I wanted to find the positives. If for no other reason than to assuage your guilt, I hunted down as much information and as many studies as I could to see what we currently know about the impact of being a working mom on children. Interestingly, many studies have shown no significant differences in certain outcomes or mixed effects.
Here are the Top 5 benefits of having a working Mom:
- Daughters of working moms are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, be employed as adults, hold supervisory positions and earn a higher income. Source: Cross-National Evidence Linking Maternal Employment and Adult Children’s Outcomes.
- Sons raised by working mothers spend more time as adults caring for family members and contributing to household duties. Source: Cross-National Evidence Linking Maternal Employment and Adult Children’s Outcomes..
- In general, children of mothers who work during the toddler years tend to have higher academic achievement. Sources: 2010 Meta-Analysis Study and The Effect of Maternal Employment on Children’s Academic Performance
- Children who spend more time in childcare tend to have better social skills and everyday life skills. Source: The development and happiness of very young children.
- Findings suggest that children of working mothers are more independent, have more positive assertiveness and act out less. Source: The Effects of the Mother’s Employment on the Family and the Child
One additional bonus benefit for working moms themselves (that I have to imagine trickles down to their children as well): Working mothers tend to have better overall mental health and report lower rates of depression. Source: Working and non-working mothers a comparative study.
If nothing else, the majority of the research finds that the prevailing attitudes that mothers working outside the home is hugely detriment to a child’s well-being is simply not true.
Generally, there are no effects of decreased happiness, delayed development or lower academic achievement found in children of working mothers. In some cases, the opposite may be true. The one place there is evidence of a negative effect of having a working mother is in early infancy; which to me is a great argument for better and stronger maternity leave policies. For me the one big takeaway was that having a working mother has a pretty big impact on driving towards gender equality in the workplace and influences the gender role attitudes that our children adopt as adults (as evidenced by benefits #1 and #2).
At the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you and your family. Base your decisions around that, and let go of the guilt!
For more on working moms, check out What it is really like being a Working Mom.
Thanks for stopping by!