Working mothers and the effects on children

Jul 22, 2011

Parents struggling to combine paid work with bringing up their children now have some positive news thanks to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on maternal employment and child socio-emotional behaviour in the UK. The research shows that there are no significant detrimental effects on a child's social or emotional development if their mothers work during their early years.

The ideal scenario for , both and girls, was shown to be where both parents lived in the home and both were in paid employment. For children living with two parents, the impact of the working life of the mother may partly depend on the father's own working arrangements. However using data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, the researchers discovered that the relationship between behavioural difficulties and employment of the mother was stronger for girls than for boys and that this was not explained by household income, level of mother's education or depression in the mother.

While boys in households, where the mother was the breadwinner, displayed more difficulties at age five than boys living with two , the same was not true for girls. Girls in traditional households where the father was the breadwinner were more likely to have difficulties at age five than girls living in dual-earner households.

The principal researcher in this study, Dr Anne McMunn, has said: "Mothers who work are more likely to have higher educational qualifications, live in a higher income household, and have a lower likelihood of being depressed than mothers who are not in paid work. These factors explain the higher levels of behavioural difficulties for boys of non-working mothers, but the same was not true for girls"

As previous research has indicated, children in single-mother households and in two-parent households in which neither parent was in work were much more likely to have challenging behaviour at age five than children where both parents were in paid employment. Household income however, and maternal characteristics can mitigate the effects of this.

"Some studies have suggested that whether or not mothers in the first year of a child's life can be particularly important for later outcomes. In this study we did not see any evidence for a longer-term detrimental influence on child behaviour of working during the child's first year of life" states Dr Anne McMunn.

Explore further: Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Working mums and overweight kids: is there a link?

Nov 22, 2007

New research from the University of Bristol shows that children aged between 5 and 7, whose mothers work full time, are more likely to be overweight at age 16. The impact on their weight is not immediate; rather, children ...

No psychological risk in children next-born after stillbirth

Jul 09, 2009

There is no evidence that children next-born after stillbirth are clinically at risk compared to children of non-bereaved mothers, according to a study published today in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Howeve ...

Recommended for you

Study identifies why re-educating torturers may not work

Nov 21, 2014

Many human rights educators assume – incorrectly, as it turns out – that police and military officers in India who support the torture of suspects do so because they are either immoral or ignorant. This ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

Nov 21, 2014

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.