Are Children of Working Mothers Happier?

There are some discoveries that throw conventional wisdom on its head. 

Just as we’re beginning to come to terms with the fact that coffee can be beneficial to our health and that dark chocolate can be good in moderation, a new reason to celebrate creeps up on us. According to a Harvard Study, children of working mothers are just as happy as children of stay at home moms 

organic baby boy clothes

Could this be the sigh of relief of guilt-ridden mothers heard round the world?  Research leader and Harvard Business School Professor Kathleen McGuinn hopes so. “People still have this belief that when moms are employed, it’s somehow detrimental to their children. So, our finding that maternal employment doesn’t affect kids happiness is really important.” 

Before you read the findings from this study, we want to remind all of our readers that we firmly believe that whether you have a career or have chosen to make parenthood your full time gig - we are ALL boss mamas! Regarding the question "Are Children of Working Mothers Happier?" - the answer is not quantifiable, nor should we seek to quantify a choice that is personal and dependent on each family's unique circumstances.

The truth is, this study only proves that mothers need not feel weary should they choose to balance a career and parenthood, and that demonstrating career skills can have a positive impact on your little ones. Should all moms have a job? We already have one - salary or not! All moms ARE working moms. Let's just make sure our kids understand how much effort and energy goes into fostering their growth, and teach them to respect our choices, as well as the choices of all moms everywhere.

Here’s a look at the new body of evidence that might erase years of preconceived notions about ‘women’s roles.’  

Study Results 

The results are part of a larger study Professor McGuinn conducted on how working motherhood affects children.  In 2015, McGuinn’s preliminary research showed that daughters raised by working moms were more likely to be employed, hold down leadership positions, and earn more money than working daughters of non-working moms.  

If you’re finding this more difficult to accept than the news that coffee is good for you, here’s something that might make it easier to digest. The full study is out and the number are in to prove it.  

In order to conduct the study, researchers reviewed two cross national surveys involving over 100,000 men and women in 29 countries. It revealed that daughters or working moms were 1.21 times more likely to be employed, 1.29 percent more likely to fill supervisory positions, and on average earned $1880 more per year than employed daughters of stay at home moms. While those figures may not seem dramatic, they provide even more evidence that both working moms and stay at home moms need not feel the sting of guilt on either side of the coin, whether they are pursuing a career in tandem with parenthood or working as a full time parent (because ALL moms ARE working moms, career or not).

The research also indicated that while girls are inspired to follow in their mothers’ footsteps in the workplace, boys are equally inspired to follow in their mothers’ footsteps on the domestic front. Sons of working moms spend an extra 50 minutes per week caring for family members and are more open minded about gender roles.  

Daughters, on the other hand spend a half hour less on housework and both sexes reported being just as happy as children of mothers who worked inside the house. Good job work, moms! Your role modeling gender attitudes and shaping mindsets that are setting the stage for a whole new mindset. 

parents bonding with baby

Why Is This Significant?  

Women have been trying to remove the stigma of working mothers for decades. Why is this research so significant?    

The most compelling revelation of this study is that not only does a working mother have an impact on girls, she has an impact on boys as well. She’s not only creating a positive role model for women, she’s paving the way to a more accepting society. 

It also proves that children are more affected by your presence than your absence. No matter how much time you spend away from your children, it’s the time you spend with them that makes the lasting impression.    

McGuinn observes, Women are socialized to believe mothers should stay home with their children, so when you separate from your kids every day for work, it can be painful. As we gradually understand that our children aren’t suffering, I hope the guilt will go away.” 

Now that the evidence is in, the case for working moms is stronger than ever and the final verdict is, “Not guilty.” You’re doing great moms, and you’re children are behind you. 

If you are a stay at home mom impressed by this study, you can impart a career-oriented work ethic upon your kids even without the structure of a full-time career.

Some ideas for instilling career-supporting characteristics as a stay at home mom:

  • Becoming involved in local events can teach organization and expose them early to the power of community and structure
  • Devoting time and energy into developing your own passions and hobbies teaches them to harness their own skills and interests
  • Breaking the mold of gender roles for your sons and daughters early in life will have invaluable impact on their outlook and the perspective they carry through life in friendships and relationships
  • Being there for them and supporting their efforts full-time demonstrates resiliency and commitment
  • Keeping them involved in any event planning, scheduling, and brainstorming weekend activities can afford them clerical skills - let them contribute and ideate with you!
  • Structure chores and assignments for them early in life to forge a healthy work ethic
  • Make sure they understand that your role as a full time parent was a decision that you and your partner made as a team, and that you chose to take on the most important job on the planet! 

How do you inspire your kids to develop a work ethic as a stay at home mom? If you're a mommy with a career, have you noticed a positive impact on your kids? Let us know! It is our goal to bridge the gap between working moms and stay at home moms and unite under our common thread of parenthood. Let's teach our kids to respect and value ALL moms, and in-so-doing, erode the stereotypes associated with womens' roles at home or at work. We're in this together!

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