The 6 Biggest Myths About Working Moms and Their Kids—Debunked
It's time to put these misconceptions to rest...
How can you go to work knowing your baby is at home missing you all day?
Haven’t you heard that children with working parents can have behavioral problems?
Wouldn’t you rather prioritize your children?
These are just a few of the painfully untrue things I have either overheard or have had said to me. False, false and also false. Maybe I’m biased because I returned to work, but one thing I have learned since becoming a working mother is that somebody will always have something to say about your choices. If you aren’t working, you’re living off “other people’s hard-earned tax money” and if you are working, you’re “harming your child.”
One of the most challenging decisions a new mother can make is whether to return to work or stay at home with her child. The debate as to whether returning to work can impact your child’s development seems to be never-ending. However, there is minimal evidence to suggest that your child will be affected by your choice to work. In fact, it would seem that, if anything, they are affected in a positive way. According to a study from Oxford University and the London School of Economics, children of parents who go to work can actually develop at an increased rate over those who have stay-at-home parents. The study also found that children whose mothers were not working had lower capabilities and also a 5 percent decrease in social and everyday skills compared to children of working mothers. Children who attended nursery school had a 10 percent positive increase with everyday skill sets, such as communication.
Mothers who return to work are not in any way harming their child—if anything, they are benefiting them. Even those children who do lack in certain areas usually make this up by primary school age—so whether you’re working or you’re not, you don’t need to panic or feel guilty for your decisions. Every mom is different and every child is different.
Here’s why those common misconceptions about working moms just aren’t true:
1. Working moms are positive role models.
Movies like to paint working moms as sad, frazzled and forgetful creatures who miss out on their kids’ lives. Sorry, nope. Not to say that stay-at-home moms can’t be positive role models (because obviously, they are!), but by having a working mother who deftly handles both work and home, children realize from a young age that women can tackle it all.
2. Working moms raise more independent children.
Some “experts” want you to believe that working moms’ kids stick to our sides like glue, terrified we’re heading out the door again. From personal experience, the opposite is true: Right up until my child started nursery school, she clung to me for dear life. However, since I returned to work and she started school, she has learned to do things for herself and has become more independent in everyday life. She is not afraid to explore new things.
3. Statistics suggest that working moms are actually less prone to depression compared to stay-at-home moms.
Contrary to all those popular depictions of crazed career women, being a working mother is actually beneficial for your mental well-being as it gives you that well-deserved time away for adult conversation.
4. Working moms don’t take quality time for granted.
We can’t stop working? I don’t think so. Whether you work 10 hours a week or 60, working mothers know that when we get home, it’s family time. Cellphones and other distractions are put away until our child is in bed. Sometimes, if you are at home with your child 24/7, you begin to take this precious time for granted.
5. The children of working mothers may do better academically.
A huge study in Denmark found that children of women who work 10 to 19 hours per week for the first four years of their child’s life have a grade point average that is 2.6% higher than those children whose mothers did not work at all.
6. They may also have fewer behavioral problems.
Despite the constant assumptions that children of working mothers are not well-behaved, it’s just not true. In fact, 50 years of research has shown that children raised by working mothers may be better behaved than those raised by stay-at-home moms.
There are numerous positive aspects to being a working mother, just like there are numerous positive aspects to being a stay-at-home mother. The only kind of mom we shouldn’t be? A “supermom” who works herself to the bone—at home or at work. Yes, working mothers have a lower risk of depression, but that risk increases significantly when we take on more than we can handle. Avoid burnout by letting go of guilt, investing in quality childcare, organizing your mornings by prepping the night before, creating a family calendar (including fun activities for your children when you aren’t at work), ignoring work emails or calls when you are with your family, communicating your needs with your employer (especially if they are giving you too much of a workload) and creating moments for yourself to relax outside of both work and family.
Returning to work can be daunting. Being a stay-at-home mom can be daunting. Whatever you decide, you’re right. Only you know what your family needs and what works best!
Courtesy: Sam Glass, workingmother.com
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