Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a press release regarding mothers’ return to work after having a baby. The end of maternal, and in some cases, paternal leave can be anxiety provoking. After all, for months prior, the caregivers’ focus was on the preparation for and care of a helpless human being. Caregivers’ main concern is whether this baby will be alright without them. However, with increasing understanding of the stressors associated with the return to work, there are resources that can aid the transition.
Children whose mothers return to work before their offspring turn 3 are no more likely to have academic or behavioral problems than kids whose mothers stay at home. – APA
The findings cited in the APA article were based on an analysis of 50 years of research. The studies looked at mothers who returned to work within 3 years of giving birth. The children most likely to benefit from their mother’s return to work were those of low socioeconomic status. The suggested reasons behind this finding is increased income to care for the kids, as well as providing them with a positive role model.
Children in middle- and upper-class families with two parents were slightly more likely to see decreases in achievement later on. In addition, slight increases in externalizing behaviors were evident later on if the mother went back to work full-time during the first year of the child’s life. – APA
While the latter findings may seem discouraging, the statistical significance was slight, meaning that they cannot be applied to the majority of children in those circumstances. The authors do, however, call for amendments to maternity leave policies (with comparisons made to European policies), in order to offset any adverse effects.
A child who is emotionally well adjusted, well loved, and well cared for will thrive regardless of whether the mother works outside the home. – American Academy of Pediatrics
Caregivers should recognize that their concerns are normal, and typical of most parents. In order to reduce their fears, they should ensure that the issues regarding returning to work are discussed with their partner, that they seek quality child care and that they transition back into the workforce at a pace suitable to their needs. Additional tips and resources are available when you Read More.