The study by University of Massachusetts researcher Elizabeth Harvey, which appears in the latest issue of the journalDevelopmental Psychology, shows that kids whose mothers work outside the home have no emotional or developmental damage because of it. Harvey’s study differs from others in that she looked at 12,000 kids who had reached age 12, a later age than most previous studies.
The researcher found that there might be some differences in behavior at around age 3 or 4, but those differences had worked themselves out as the children moved through their preteen years.
Differences in academic achievement disappeared by age 10, and language differences between working and stay-at-home moms were reduced by age 12.
Where there are differences are in two areas: how soon a mother returns to work, and in the number of hours worked each week. Harvey found that when the sooner a mother returns to work after delivery, the more likely it is that behavioral and developmental problems will crop up. Likewise, the more hours a week a mom works, the more likely problems are likely to develop and linger.
Harvey’s study indicates that the most important issues in determining whether or not a child is well-developed are the relationship the mother and child have when they are together, and the quality of the child’s daycare. With apparently no impact on the situation are fathers, whether or not they work out of or in the home.