... if you ever did feel guilty about being a mother in paid employment. can't say that i ever did, but now the research proves that your kids' turn out just fine, so i was right to not waste my time worrying:
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....
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.
yes, i too hate the term "working mums", because all mums work. they just don't all get paid for the work they do. but aside from that niggle and a crappy last paragraph to make sure you feel guilty about something, it's nice to see actual research is showing that whether you take up paid employement through choice or necessity, your kids aren't going to be any worse off.
on a related topic, it was interesting to hear the interview on nine to noon this morning (11.20am) with desmond morris, author of "child: how children think, learn and grow in the early years. at 21 minutes into the clip, he also talks about women in paid employment feeling guilty about leaving their children in childcare. he says they shoudn't feel so guilty, because a nursery school provides social interaction which is very natural. he speaks of the importance of children being able to interact with others of their own age, to become more socially educated, more in tune with the behaviour of other individuals, and more able to give and take. after all, he says, we evolved for a million years in small tribes where the children were playing with one another and there wasn't the isolation that we have now.
it's something i see even now when i visit india. many live in an extended family situation, and parents don't actually see much of their kids at all. they see them when the kids are hungry, or when the kids need to be bathed. this is especially so in the village situation. in the cities, there is a greater movement to nuclear families, and so much more competitive pressure with the education system, that the natural interaction of village life is being lost.
it's one of the outcomes of a developed and industrialised society that we lose a lot of that social interaction. and the response has been to make mothers feel that they should be spending every possible moment at home with their children, as if this would somehow make up for the loss. my own sense always was that this is not natural, or at least not traditional, the way it has often been claimed.
which is not to say that i have any problem with women who choose to stay out of paid employment, and who do focus more of their time & attention on their children. it's an equally valid & valuable choice, but what the research is showing is that it's not a better (nor a worse) one.