Women received the right to vote in 1920, and while superficially a lot has of course changed, certain mindsets have proven harder to shake. Despite women making up 47% of the UK labour force, a large number of Brits still believe that a stay-at-home mum is best for the development of children. So it seems that even 100 years after Emmeline Pankhurst fought for women’s suffrage and began the debate about a woman’s role in society, this discussion is still raging and more often than not, working mothers get the short end of the stick.
It is all too easy to claim a child needs to be constantly lavished with a mother’s attention to thrive, that proper development necessitates large amounts of time and energy spent on the children, a popular notion among middle and upper class Brits. There is no doubt, that children benefit from spending time with their parents, mother or father, but a recent study has also found there to be little correlation between the amount of time a mother spends with her child and its emotional well-being or its academic achievement. In fact, a 2010 analyses of studies conducted over 50 years ago found that children whose mothers worked, not only did not suffer from any major learning, behaviour or social problems, but even tended to be high achievers in school and have less depression and anxiety.
The point here is not to prove that children of working mothers are better off, rather to consider the fact that each side of the coin brings its own unique advantages and challenges. Children of stay-at-home mothers do benefit in certain areas, but children of working mothers have the edge in other areas of development. They are frequently more independent than the children of stay-at-home mothers and learn to take on more responsibility at an earlier age. It is not unlikely that these personality traits contribute largely to the fact that especially daughters of working mothers go on to complete more years of education and are more likely to be employed and earn higher incomes. The careers of the sons of working mothers proved no significant difference to those of stay-at-home mothers, but this is very likely due to the social expectation of men to be the bread winner. They did however spend more time on childcare and housework and are more likely to marry working women.
Another factor that should be considered is the rise of depression among stay-at-home mums. Spending all day with the children and housework without another adult to speak to can leave many women to feel isolated and bored. This in turn leads to depression. The effects of depression on any family are undeniable and children are sensitive to these kinds of things. Although one remedy for any possible feelings of isolation is to connect with others in the same boat. Some mothers may turn to browsing forums, or even start their own blog to vent their feelings. It’s a good start to look here for ways to begin a life of blogging if you have any interest.
Ultimately, whether you choose to stay at home or go to work, the choice is yours. Both lifestyles have their highs and their lows, either choice will impact your children positively and negatively in equal measure. Perhaps the key is, as it is so often, to focus on quality rather than quantity.