Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The kids are all right: Few negative associations with moms' return to work after having children, review finds

Date:
October 15, 2010
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Children whose mothers return to work before their offspring turn 3 are no more likely to have academic or behavioral problems than kids whose mothers stay at home, according to a review of 50 years of research.

Children whose mothers return to work before their offspring turn 3 are no more likely to have academic or behavioral problems than kids whose mothers stay at home, according to a review of 50 years of research.

"Overall, I think this shows women who go back to work soon after they have their children should not be too concerned about the effects their employment has on their children's long-term well-being," said psychologist Rachel Lucas-Thompson, PhD, lead author of the study conducted with Drs. JoAnn Prause and Wendy Goldberg at the University of California, Irvine.

For some families, having a mom on the job is better for children, according to the meta-analysis of 69 studies conducted between 1960 and 2010. For example, children from single-parent or low-income families whose mothers worked had better academic and intelligence scores and fewer behavioral problems than children whose mothers did not work, the authors found. This was probably due in part to increased resources that the income afforded, they said. The findings appear online in Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association.

"This is the first comprehensive and systematic look at maternal employment during children's early years and what effect it has on children, specifically in the area of school performance, intelligence and behavioral problems," said Lucas-Thompson, PhD, of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. "For years, there has been a lot of debate in this area of research and now we can see more clearly for which families there are positive or negative associations with having a mom who works." Lucas-Thompson conducted the study along with JoAnn Prause, PhD, and Wendy Goldberg, PhD, at the University of California, Irvine.

Children in poorer families may benefit more from having a working mother because the added income helps to reduce the child's stress and leads to more opportunities, according to Lucas-Thompson. In addition, she said, the mothers become positive role models for their children.

The analysis included studies where the mother returned to work, either part-time or full-time, within three years of giving birth. To be considered, the studies had to measure school performance through achievement test scores, school grades, intelligence test scores and teacher ratings of cognitive abilities. Behavioral problems were assessed by children's "internalizing behaviors," such as anxiety and withdrawal; and "externalizing behaviors," such as aggression and conduct problems. Behavioral problems were reported by parents, teachers or the older children themselves. Many of the studies were longitudinal, meaning the researchers followed families for several years after the mothers went back to work -- even into the children's adolescent years.

Further analyses suggested that children in middle- and upper-class families with two parents were slightly more likely to see decreases in achievement later on. In addition, slight increases in externalizing behaviors were evident later on if the mother went back to work full-time during the first year of the child's life. "This suggests that families who are not struggling financially may not see as many benefits of maternal employment on very young children," said Lucas-Thompson. "For these families, it's possible that alternate care arrangements may not be as emotionally supportive as the child's mother."

Lucas-Thompson said these latter findings help support the calls for more flexible and generous maternity leave policies. "Our country does not compare very well with other developed countries that are better at supporting new parents," she said. "If parents could postpone work or if they were allowed to work fewer hours during that first year, I think it could only have positive effects on our children."

Despite the fact that this analysis included studies conducted over a half-century, beginning at a time when fewer mothers worked outside the home, there were no significant differences in the findings based on the year the studies were published.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rachel G. Lucas-Thompson, Wendy A. Goldberg, JoAnn Prause. Maternal work early in the lives of children and its distal associations with achievement and behavior problems: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 2010; DOI: 10.1037/a0020875

Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "The kids are all right: Few negative associations with moms' return to work after having children, review finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014121152.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2010, October 15). The kids are all right: Few negative associations with moms' return to work after having children, review finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014121152.htm
American Psychological Association. "The kids are all right: Few negative associations with moms' return to work after having children, review finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014121152.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins