Working Moms' kids are just fine

Sharon - posted on 10/25/2010 ( 27 moms have responded )

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Or so says 50 years of research.

http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/18/wo...


Another day, another study on whether women who work are jeopardizing their children's well-being. According to a review of 50 years of research on the subject, kids whose moms went back to work before the kids were 3 years old had no worse academic or behavioral problems than kids whose moms stayed home. In fact, in some instances they did better. The research, which appears in the Psychological Bulletin, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Psychological Association, looked at 69 studies between 1960, when research on the issue started, and 2010. The researchers looked specifically at academic and behavioral outcomes. "We really wanted to try to resolve some of the controversy and inconsistent findings around the issue of maternal employment," says lead author Rachel Lucas Thompson, an assistant professor of psychology at Macalester College in Minnesota. (More on Time.com: See photos of the Grosse Pointe Moms Club)

The researchers found little evidence to suggest that mothers who work part-time or full-time have children with problems in later life. But the researchers did find two positive associations between working motherhood and well-adjusted children: kids whose mothers worked when they were younger than 3 were later rated as higher-achieving by teachers and had fewer problems with depression and anxiety.

The only small caveat was that children whose mothers worked in the very first year of their lives tended to have slightly lower formal academic scores than those whose moms didn't. However children whose mothers were employed when the child was 1 or 2 years old had higher academic scores than kids with full-time moms. Over the three years, the effects evened out. (More on Time.com: "Mompetition": Why You Just Can't Make Mom Friends).

The debate about working moms is often conducted as if the only group affected were guilt-ridden high-income college-educated women. But most working mothers have little choice but to hold down a paying job, especially in single-parent families. The children of single moms who work tend to do better than those who don't. "These findings suggest in single-parent families there should be no guilt about employment," says Lucas-Thompson. "They can also alleviate some concerns among the wealthy," although among children of higher-income families whose moms were working before they were 3, there was a slightly higher incidence of aggressive behavior.

It's not just the extra money the working mothers bring in that helps the kids, although that's a huge part of it. Other research has suggested that an employed mother provides children with a positive role model about the value of working hard, and lessens other, non-economic stresses on the family. (More on Time.com: 5 Pregnancy Taboos Explained (or Debunked)).

Recent studies have shown that wives and mothers are taking on an increasing share of the burden of providing for the household, partly because of the decline in jobs for men with only a high school education. Many experts are concerned that child care and flexible work options have not nearly kept apace with this change.

In related news: a survey of full-time working mothers and mommy bloggers conducted by a thermometer maker found that when their children got sick, 33% of moms pretended to be sick so they could stay home with their child, 62% of them called on parents or in-laws for child care, 57% of them took unpaid leave to care for their child, and a distressing 34% of them took the kid to school or day care anyway — where they could infect your child.

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Do you believe it? Do you see any flaws in this study?

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Jenn - posted on 10/25/2010

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Yes, I have 3 kids. That figure also included the average per month for the GST and the new Provincial Sales Tax Rebate in Ontario. But this year he's making more money so my payments will go down next July. When the twins were first born my status was still single until they adjusted it in July so it was based on only my income and I was getting $1450 a month PLUS the GST. But the good thing about CCTB is that they will adjust something to your benefit - so in my case it was to my benefit for them to change my marital status at renewal time. But if your status changes from married to single they will adjust your payments immediately to reflect only your income. Also, I said he makes decent money, which where we live is decent, don't you live in BC? And your cost of living is probably higher. But having said that, we are sort of struggling due to high debt from when he lost his job in the past.

Krista - posted on 10/25/2010

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@Dana: Jenn's got three kids, so that would increase her payments substantially. If she qualifies for the GST rebate, then her husband's income is low or modest.

So, for example, if she lived in Ontario and her husband made $30K a year, she'd qualify for $867.46 a month in Child Tax Credit. Add in the extra $300 a month for Universal Child Care benefit, and there you go.

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Jane - posted on 10/25/2010

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As a full time working mom of now a 20 year old and 17 year old, I always got annoyed when stay at home mom's would tell me how I'm damaging my children by working. My daughter goes to college on a FULL (and I mean FULL) scholarship and my son is headed in that same direction. They are amazingly smart, well adjusted, no drugs or drinking kids who are both musically gifted. Is it's cuz' I worked? Hell no! But did my working cause them any harm? Nope...absolutely not and no one would ever be able to convince me that it did. I guess they could be smarter but straight A students they are so ummmm...I'm good :)

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2010

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It's an interesting article, my only issue is that there are SO many variables in child raising and a child's academic and behavioral success than *just* whether a mom stays home or works. What kind of daycare does the child attend for a working mom, what kind of activities/schedule does the child have with a SAHM, is the SAHM offering the same opportunities as a daycare would provide for a working mom? Did they factor in homeschooled children (I'm guessing not)? Is Dad present or absent? Is there abuse in the home...on and on and on, so many things will effect the outcome of a child, so I wouldn't put much thought into a study that *only* focused on two factors. But, worth the read in the end.

I do like they didn't bash SAHM's OR working moms as so many other articles take "sides". it's refreshing to see a non-biased article address the (non) issue.

Becky - posted on 10/25/2010

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I don't have any issue with this article. The only thing is, it didn't qualify that how children do depends on the quality of care they're receiving, both at home and while away from their parents. (or maybe it did, I just skimmed it, so might have missed that.) I think that is the important thing. Whether both parents work or not, what matters is that the child is receiving loving, consistent care that meets their needs.
I agree with you Sharon, and Dana, that moms who work probably are better at making the most of their time with their kids. I love staying at home with my boys, but I certainly wouldn't say I make the most of every minute. There are times, daily, when I'm just thinking, "aarg, go to sleep already so I can have a few minutes to myself!"

[deleted account]

Yup, I'm in BC! I suppose the only real reason we're struggling also is because he lost his job and was out of work for 4 months until he found a job making almost half of what he used to make so things have changed significantly but our benefits don't reflect that as of yet.

I suppose this is all relative.

Sorry for hijacking your thread, Sharon - it's a bad habit of mine! ;)

Krista - posted on 10/25/2010

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Nor do we. We've only got the one kid, and our combined income, while not huge, does put us out of the running for the GST rebate.

[deleted account]

Ok, so I just realized something. I mentioned that Chad made 60k last year, which is what our benefits are based on and that also determines whether or not we get GST rebates also BUT he's no longer making that. He's making 10$ less per hour now with this new job he has so we've really been struggling. Our benefits won't get adjusted until after we file our taxes next year so this year has been really tough.

[deleted account]

WOW! Thanks Krista. I suppose that makes sense. I guess where my situation differs other than only having one child is that Chad makes 60K a year. I guess it all balances out. I'm pretty sure that we didn't qualify for the National Child Tax benefit but I'm headed to their website right now to find out. We also don't qualify for GST or HST rebates.

[deleted account]

This study is a really positive one on both sides which is nice! As long as the children are well cared for it doesn't make any difference. We personally wanted for our family, for me to stay at home. That's how we were brought up, and that's what we wanted for our children, but luckily we can do it whilst still having enough money too. As for stay at home mums don't offer a role model of being hard-working...I disagree. I'm starting to study online in January towards a degree, so if that isn't hard work whilst looking after a child too then I dunno what is =]

[deleted account]

UMMM, excuse me, Jenn? $1125/month? I'm in BC and I only receive, 100$ Universal Child Tax and now I'm only getting 99$ from CCTC because Chad apparently made too much last year. Pfft. How in the hell does it work out to so much for you?

[deleted account]

Lovely plan, Dana! I feel the same about working at a school when Eliza and this new little one are both in school. The extra income will probably go straight into their college funds (hopefully anyway!) and I'll still be home with them before and after school. But that is at least six years away. A lot can happen between now and then, so for now it's not something I think a lot about.

Krista - posted on 10/25/2010

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Holy crap, Jenn. You must have more than one kid, I'm guessing. I've only got the one, and I only get the $100 Universal Child Care benefit, and then about $80 a month for the Child Tax benefit. What's this National Child Benefit you mentioned? I don't see it anywhere on the Service Canada website.



Edit: Never mind. Found it.

[deleted account]

I'm planning on on starting the ECE diploma program next spring and I possibly want to go on to get my degree. Once Roxanne is in school full-time my hope is to be able to work in that same school or at the very least have similar hours so we don't have to afford daycare and my income can truly supplement our family.

Jenn - posted on 10/25/2010

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Well, for me to stay home I do get some benefit. In Canada we have several different benefits that you can qualify for and are based off of your income. So it isn't directly related to staying home, but if your income is no longer there you may qualify for something else that you may not have before. For us, Brian works full time making decent (not great) money and we qualify for Canada Child Tax Credit, National Child Benefit, Universal Child Care Credit (everyone gets that one regardless of income), GST rebates, etc., etc. In total if I average it all out I get about $1125 a month. Now if I were working our income would be higher and we wouldn't get as much from the gov't - so there is some benefit from the gov't to stay home in an indirect way.

[deleted account]

Yeah, I get tired of the posts about "My husband/boyfriend doesn't think I have a real job"...etc. etc. I guess we're pretty lucky with our understanding partners. The only negative experience I had with being a SAHM comes from the fact that I finished school and started a career before I had Eliza. Some insinuated that my education was a waste. Oh really? A Master in childhood education is a waste on a woman raising a child? I'd think it would be a huge plus! But other than that I've had mostly positive reactions about me being at home.

[deleted account]

I'm lucky though, I've never come into contact with anyone who's made me feel that way. In my experience, SAHM's are hugely respected. It wasn't until I joined CoM's that I realized that not everyone felt that way. DEFINITELY a huge eye opener.

Sharon - posted on 10/25/2010

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I'll say there's a stigma attached to being a SAHM!!! The govt won't classify it as a JOB. Assholes. There is Zero govt benefit - other than welfare - to staying home to raise your kids. ASSHOLES.

[deleted account]

I do agree, Sara. THAT statement, "Other research has suggested that an employed mother provides children with a positive role model about the value of working hard, and lessens other, non-economic stresses on the family." does suggest that SAHM's can't be a positive role model of hard work. Obviously all of us intellectual well-rounded woman KNOW that's just not true. Unfortunately though, I think there's still a stigma attached to being a SAHM, that it's not a real job. I consider my job fairly easy and pretty fun most days BUT I still consider it a job.

[deleted account]

I agree with all you posters so far. Working vs. staying home is a personal choice with many factors involved. If a mom works or stays home is not the end all, be all of how a child will grow, develop, and function. There are too many other variables that need to be looked at to determine that.

I did have one nit-picky thing with the article that rubbed me the wrong way. "Other research has suggested that an employed mother provides children with a positive role model about the value of working hard, and lessens other, non-economic stresses on the family." Stay at home moms can be positive, hard working role models too! It's kind of sweet, when I clean my daughter is right there by my side emulating everything I do. She has an empty spray bottle that she uses when I dust, she has her own toy broom, she's allowed to load, unload, and put away plastic containers and dishes from the dishwasher, she helps transfer clothes from the washer to dryer, she helps me cook...I feel she's getting a lesson in hard work from all that. I know working moms do these things too, but it's just an example of how children can learn work ethics without mom actually going to work.

[deleted account]

I agree completely, Sharon. This article didn't bash either side. It was encouraging.

I also agree that because I am at home with Roxanne full-time right now, I'm not always taking advantage of that time. It's not as precious to me right now. Once I'm back at work, I know it'll make that time much more special and we'll use every minute as if it was our last. As a SAHM who loves what I do, I DEFINITELY think there's some major benefits to being a working mom. I have the utmost respect for them and can't wait to re-join the work force. Great article, Sharon!

Sharon - posted on 10/25/2010

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I hear you Dana. I always thought that kids benefitted from having their mothers at home in the early years.

Whether that benefit is real or in my head, and despite how rough it was on me, I loved being a sahm for my kids.

I always said that when the youngest was in school full time, I'd go back to work. Who knew the circumstances would be so dire that I had these nasty hours? But I'm enjoying my job and missing my kids.

I'm not doing more with them, BECAUSE I'm away from them but I am finding just a tiny bit more joy in the stuff we do together.

What I liked about this study? Was that instead of slamming the SAHMs it just mentioned that the small difference between the children of working vs. sahm - those differences evened out after a few years. Which is something I figured happened anyway. Especially considering that most kids GO to school and are away from their moms for 7 - 8 hours a day like a working mom.

[deleted account]

"Many experts are concerned that child care and flexible work options have not nearly kept apace with this change."

I completely agree. Something needs to change to make it easier for working moms. I'm a SAHM by choice and I love it but by the time Roxanne is in school I've planned to have finished school and I WANT to be working, at least part-time. Right now, in our current situation, we could probably use the second income but after daycare and other expenses it doesn't make sense for me to go back to work.

[deleted account]

I personally HATE the debate between SAHM's and working moms. I think we all do what we feel is best and sometimes can't be avoided. There are wonderful and shitty moms on both sides and that's that!

Jenn - posted on 10/25/2010

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I think as long as there is a loving home for the kids, they'll be just fine. I do agree that some kids are better off in daycare. I personally know a Mom who shouldn't be a Mom. We used to be friends - for 15 years in fact! I had to end the friendship when I had my own kids. That's when I realized just how psycho she was and I didn't need someone like that in my life or my kids life.

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