A study at the University of California found that the children of working mothers are no more likely to have academic and behavioural problems, and may in fact perform better in school than those whose mothers stay at home.
The study was led by Rachel Lucas-Thompson, JoAnn Prause and Wendy Goldberg of the University of California, at Irvine. The researchers reviewed 50 years of research on working and stay-at-home mothers. The study comprised 69 sub-studies conducted between 1960 and 2010
The study, which was published in Psychological Bulletin, helps to break down the typically negative association with being a working mother. Lucas-Thompson insists that mothers who return to work soon after giving birth should not be too concerned about the effects of their employment on their children’s long-term well-being.
The results showed that in poorer families, children benefited from working mothers: the extra income reduced stress and offered more opportunities. In addition, working mothers became better role models.
However, in the case of middle- and upper-class families with two parents present and which do not struggle financially, the benefits of maternal employment may not be as apparent. Lucas-Thompson says: “For these families, it’s possible that alternate care arrangements may not be as emotionally supportive as the child’s mother.”