University College London (UCL) researchers surveyed 19,000 British households to see how working mothers affected their children’s development, reports the Economist. The study found that overall, kids were better-adjusted if their mum worked outside the home.”Some studies have suggested that whether or not mothers work in the first year of a child’s life can be particularly important for later outcomes,” says UCL researcher Dr. Anne McMunn. “In this study we did not see any evidence for a longer-term detrimental influence on child behaviour of mothers working during the child’s first year of life.”
Interestingly, the study found that:
Five-year-olds whose mothers had been at home when they were babies were more likely to have behavioural problems than other children. For each child, the longer the time their mother was off work, the more bratty was the child’s behaviour. Housebound women were also far more likely to report symptoms of depression than their working counterparts, problems which can only make the process of childrearing more difficult.
Researchers also considered the effects of lower household income, poorer education and depression while compiling results.
One of the most interesting findings is that there was a strong correlation between maternal unemployment and bad behaviour in girls — but not so much for boys. The study’s authors suggested that this could hint at young girls benefiting more from watching a mum “who is successful and independent, while the effect is less pronounced for boys.”
Boys, on the other hand, were more negatively affected when the mother was the sole breadwinner.
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