Photo credit: wilpf.org
The Brits know. Quality childcare is key. Maternity leave, essential.
Studies had shown that children born to career mothers in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s did not perform as well, with their literacy and numeracy skills about two percent lower. But the latest research by Heather Joshi of the University of London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies found children born since the mid-1990s whose mothers worked during their early years fared just as well as those whose mothers did not. – Working mothers urged to drop guilt as study finds kids do fine. – British Study
So, the question I have is does this study translate to the U.S. given we don’t have paid maternity leave and HIGH quality childcare isn’t the norm for all income brackets?
Joshi said the most important factor that triggered this change in Britain was the Labour government’s investment in childcare in the mid-1990s.
I already intuitively knew kids of working moms are fine, at least with the parents I know, and I’ve been home full-time with my daughter since she was 9 months. So why do I care?
I’m at home so I could finger point at working mothers. I care because I don’t believe in shaming people for what is natural and that is: some women want to work, have to work, deserve to work.
Ambition is not exclusive to men despite a woman’s biological imperative to have babies. I’ve been ambitious and remained so even when my daughter was born. I just so happened to channel my ambition at home, via writing and other pursuits, some of which took me away from her for short periods.
My daughter is 15 now. I’ve been at home as a writer and volunteer for years. I would without a doubt, have worked part-time but I left my marketing research job due to a myriad of guilt, employer and health reasons. I was lucky to have the choice.
Formula for a happy kid? Who knows, but we sorta do.
It’s to say parental love and care + caregiver love and care = thriving kid. The embracing village and all that. Grandma, aunt, uncle, friend or really loving, attentive daycare provider. It’s all good. Switching kids all over the place, not so good. Kids really do need continuity. Crappy half-ass childcare where the person is barely paying attention or never engaging your child in developmentally stimulating stuff? Come on. No child deserves that.
BUT who can afford the best? My question is, what child doesn’t deserve the best? They all do, regardless of income.
When high quality childcare is more affordable and accessible to folks beyond the wealthy we’ve arrived. This goes along with my safe-car question which is: Why should the safest cars be the most expensive cars? Only rich kids get to live if they get in a car accident? But that’s another post.
Changes in British maternity leave also contributed to the finding, although the US still lags.
Drop the guilt in yourself, and other mothers.
I’ve been writing for a decade about, among other things, debunking myths and shame in the motherhoodsphere (postpartum depression, mommy wars and motherhood identity are my favorites). One of the shame-filled issues is society bashing working moms as “less” or not a full-time mother.
As a stay at home mother this still, always chaps my hide and was a key reason I started the Orlando Mothers & More chapter while I was in another club who focused mainly on stay at homes (or part-time employed). I wanted a more “inclusive” message.
The fact is, finds the Brits, give parents accessible, affordable HIGH QUALITY childcare and time off with their kids, and children will thrive as well as those with parents at home.
An analysis of six studies looking at 40,000 children over the last 40 years found there was no link between mothers continuing their careers and children achieving less at school or misbehaving.This research suggests changes in maternity leave and greater availability of childcare and the consequent increase in maternal employment have played a big role in enabling parents to balance work and family, Fiona Weir, chief executive of the single-parent charity Gingerbread, told Reuters
P.S. Picture is of World War II Rosie the Riveter.
“Women worked during WWII when men went to war in droves, forcing childcare to the forefront. Unfortunately conditions weren’t always ideal for the little ones.Like men, women would quit their jobs if they were unhappy with their pay, location, or environment. Unlike men, women suffered from the “double shift” of work and caring for the family and home. During the war, working mothers had childcare problems and the public sometimes blamed them for the rise in juvenile delinquency. In reality, though, 90% of mothers were home at any given time. The majority of women thought that they could best serve the war effort by staying at home (Campbell 216). During the war, the average family on the homefront had a housewife and a working husband (Yellin 45).”