An American study published last week by the Society for Research in Child Development suggests that kids don’t suffer when their moms go back to work. Researchers followed more than 1,000 kids, aged 0-7, from a variety of geographic areas, and found that while there can be downsides to mom working in the first year, ultimately there are also many advantages.
The final conclusion is neutral: “The good news is that we can see no adverse effects,” said American academic Jane Waldfoge.
The question of whether mom should work is a media darling, but the public debate only occasionally touches on the nuances of the issue as they play out for real mothers. The researchers of this study tried their best to account for these nuances, looking at a number of variables, including financial stability, the mother’s well-being and quality of childcare.
“This research is unique because the question we have always asked in the past has been: ‘If everything else remains constant, what is the effect of a mum going off to work?’ But of course everything else doesn’t stay constant, so it’s an artificial way of looking at things,” said American academic Jane Waldfogel speaking to the The Guardian. “Family relationships, family income, the mental health of the mother all change when a mother is working and so what we did was to look at the full impact, taking all of these things into account.”
“This is especially good news for US mothers,” added Waldfogel, since parental leave in this country is so minimal. Waldfogel is right that this is good news for moms who have to go back to work, but lets hope that this doesn’t get used as ammunition for evil, anti-family politicians and corporations who are trying to shrink parental leave even further.