Working is 'better for mother's health' than staying at home
Published 13/12/2011 | 10:18
MOTHERS with jobs tend to be healthier and happier than those who stay at home during their children’s early years, it has been found.
Working part-time is better for mothers than staying at home to raise the children or working full-time, it has been found.
Over 1,300 women were interview and followed up for ten years.
It was found that part-time mothers reported better health and fewer symptoms of depression than those who stayed at home.
Meanwhile there was no difference between the general health and depressive symptoms of those who worked part-time or full-time, it was found.
Lead author Prof Cheryl Buehler, professor of human development and family studies, at the University of North Carolina, America, said: "In all cases with significant differences in maternal wellbeing, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favoured part-time work over full-time or not working.
“However, in many cases the wellbeing of moms working part time was no different from moms working full time.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
Around a quarter of women in the study worked part-time, defined as between one and 32 hours a week but this varied as their children grew.
It was also found that the part-time and full-time working mothers both felt that working supported family life and their ability to be a better parent, Prof Buehler wrote.
The analysis found that mothers employed part time were just as involved in their child’s school as stay-at-home mothers, and more involved than moms who worked full time.
In addition, mothers working part-time appeared more sensitive with their preschool children, when they were videoed with their children and watched by trained observers, and they provided more learning opportunities for toddlers than stay-at-home mothers and mothers working full time.
Learning opportunities were measured as taking children on outings and providing lessons or membership of clubs to support their talents.
The researchers analysed National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development data.
Study co-author Prof Marion O’Brien, professor of human development and family studies, said: “Employers tend to use part-time work as a money-saving strategy and to consider part-time employees as both expendable and not worthy of investment through the provision of benefits, training, or career advancement.
"During times of economic stress, when both mothers and fathers may feel a need to maximise their income, part-time work is even more likely to be a cost-saving measure for employers.
"Yet part-time work seems to be contributing to the strength and wellbeing of families. It is likely that many mothers (and probably some fathers as well) would elect to work part time if this status were recognised by employers as a legitimate approach to building a career while maintaining a healthy family life.
"Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and wellbeing of families, it would be beneficial to employers if they provide fringe benefits, at least proportionally, to part-time employees as well as offer them career ladders through training and promotion."