Jane Waldfogel, co-author of the study, commented on the consequences of a mother returning to the workplace, “In reality, lots of other things change the minute she goes out to work, including the quality of childcare, the mother’s mental health, and the relationships with the family and the household income. We’ve examined all of these.“ While the study did find that some infants raised by full-time working mothers scored slightly lower on cognitive tests, the positive effects of working mothers offset the negatives.
The outcome of this study is in sharp contrast to prior studies, namely the 2008 UNICEF research, which concluded that mothers who went back to work before their child’s 1st birthday were “gambling” with their child’s development. A similar conclusion was reached by an earlier study from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University in the U.K.
My blog, Career Women Make Bad Mothers, highlighted a number of the positive effects working mothers have on their children, which have also been confirmed by this latest research. What’s most interesting about this recent study is the acknowledgement that children are also impacted by the family dynamics – i.e. a happy family makes a happy child. Let’s consider some of the other positive effects of women pursuing their careers after childbirth.
Mother-Father Partnership Benefits
Had I not had a career, I couldn’t have fathomed why my other half had to work such long hours. (Brilliance doesn’t happen between 9-5.) Having worked hard to further my own career, I understand all too well what it takes to be successful. Conversely, had my other half not actively participated in the upbringing of our children, he couldn’t possibly have understood the mental challenge of dealing with two-year old tantrums or teenage mood swings.
Organizations need gender balance in order to ensure sound decision making, innovation and alignment with customers’ and shareholders’ interests. Organizations benefit when professional women return from maternity leave and continue to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the business.
Don’t wait for another study to come out to determine whether you are making the right choices for your family. Use your common sense. Be logical. Know yourself and take decisions with confidence. Everyone benefits when women happily combine career and family – women benefit, men benefit, children benefit, and your profession benefits.