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Study: children of working moms just as happy as children of stay-at-home moms

Working moms shouldn’t feel guilty that they are lesser parents than stay-at-home moms


Many women (and some men) grapple with the question of whether to go back to work once they have a child.


Of course, it depends on your financial situation.  If you have a lucrative job or really enjoy your work, you may not even think about staying at home.


And it’s not encouraging that every child a woman has cuts 4 percent from her earnings.  Dads’ wages increase 6% for every additional child.


There are other considerations beyond finances.  There’s pregnancy discrimination, your future career, and of course, mom guilt.


It’s natural to wonder if spending time at work during your child’s formative years will have a negative impact for them as adults.


Worry no more.


A Harvard researcher studied happiness in children of working moms compared to stay-at-home moms. The study revealed that children of working moms end up just as happy as adults as kids of stay-at-home moms.


Children of stay-at-home mothers grow up to be happy also!  All in, it’s no better or worse for the eventual happiness of your child if you work or not.  So rest easy.


“People still have this belief that when moms are employed, it’s somehow detrimental to their children,” says Harvard Professor Kathleen McGinn.  McGinn led the groundbreaking study. “So our finding that maternal employment doesn’t affect kids’ happiness in adulthood is really important.”


These results are part of a wider study that McGinn and her team have been conducting. The broader study is about how working affects children.


According to McGinn, 100,000 parents from 29 countries participated and answered questions about how having a working mom effects adult children.


Her initial results found daughters of working moms make more money as adults.  McGinn’s 2015 results found that daughters of working moms earned an average of $1,880 more annually than daughters of full-time WFH moms.


Working mothers have a positive effect on their sons as well.  The sons of working moms have more equal gender views.  They also tend to marry partners who work.  And they spend an extra 50 minutes on average caring for their family members each week.


In McGinn’s surveys, daughters and sons were asked to rate their life satisfaction.


Whether they had a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, all reported being just as happy.


Yet women are still feel guilt and pressure from social stereotypes that assume they should be home with their children.  Often their own workplaces do not even support them properly as working parents.


McGinn hopes these results will help to ease that pressure. “As we gradually understand that our children aren’t suffering, I hope the guilt will go away,” she said.