Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on August 02, 2010

Researchers at Columbia University who assessed the total impact of mother’s absence from home on the mental and social development of the child found that the benefits of maternal employment far outweighed the negative consequences.

Jane Waldfogel, professor of social work at Columbia, who co-authored the study, stated, “Prior research has asked a somewhat artificial question: if the one thing that changed in a family was that the mother went out to work, what difference would it make for the child?

“But in reality, lots of other things change the minute she goes out to work, including the quality of childcare, the mother’s mental health, the relationships within the family and the household income. We’ve examined all those things.”

Effect of maternal employment on child's development
In order to examine the effect of maternal employment on child's development, the researchers tracked more than 1,000 infants from birth to age seven from 10 different parts of US.

As a part of the study, they took in to account family relationships, household income, kids academic test scores and their overall behavior.

It was observed that women who resumed full-time work before their tots turned one year old had little time to interact with their kids.

Also, it was noted that their kids were inclined to fare poorly in cognitive tests with the disadvantage persisting right up to primary school.

However, there were many positives that balanced out the negatives.

The prospective benefits
Career women boasted of better mental health and were able to build healthy relationships within the family.

The study found that working moms displayed greater "maternal sensitivity," towards their children, than stay-at-home mothers.

Moreover, because of financial stability women were able to provide high-quality child care since they could afford the best nannies and nursery places for their babies.

While full time maternal employment did not have any adverse impact on the child’s well being, children whose moms worked under 30 hours a week were winners all the way.

Not only did the kids gain on parental interaction but also benefited from the higher family income, better childcare and a happier home life.

Waldfogel stated, "The effect of the parenting itself is the key factor.It is hugely important how sensitive you are to your child's needs.

“Even for women who have to work more than 30 hours a week, they can make things better for themselves, they just need to take a deep breath on the doorstep, dump all the office worries behind them and go in the door prepared to pay attention to all their children's cues. This is good news for all mothers."

The study was published last week by the 'Society for Research in Child Development.'

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