A recent meta-analysis of 69 research studies spanning five decades, evaluating the impact of maternal employment, came to similar conclusions as those summarized above.
Early maternal employment was found to be associated with beneficial child outcomes when families were at risk because of either financial challenges or as the result of being single-parent families.
In those families, children of working mothers showed higher levels of achievement and lower levels of internalizing behaviors such as anxiety and depression.
These benefits are generally explained by a compensatory hypothesis that views work in those families as providing added financial security, lower levels of family stress and enhanced learning opportunities for children who would otherwise be home with a parent who is dealing with the ongoing stress of poverty and child-rearing challenges with little external support.
This recommendation is therefore most relevant for the segment of our community that falls in that category.
The finding that full-time mothers are at times at greater risk for depression should not be taken lightly.
This style of parenting frequently engenders high levels of resistance and at-risk behavior in the adolescent.
The implications of this body of research are that high stress levels, and particularly depression in stressed-out parents, can have long term implications on child development.In the case of middle class or wealthy families when the mother is working full-time, particularly in the early months of a child’s life, there appears to be a mildly increased risk for later behavioral problems and subtle cognitive impact relative to mothers who aren’t working or are working part-time.It is very important to note, however, that these conclusions cannot necessarily be generalized to our community. For example, in the case of families, where husbands learn full-time, the possibility of a more flexible schedule may result in fathers having the potential of greater involvement in their child’s life than in the case of a father who is employed full time in a traditional job.Mothers who worked full-time tended to use higher-quality substitute childcare and to show higher levels of sensitivity to her child.The researchers speculate that the higher levels of maternal sensitivity seen in employed mothers might have stemmed from their having greater financial security.In summary, the consensus of the empirical studies on the impact of maternal employment finds that child adjustment is tied to a number of relevant variables.