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Working Mothers and their Children Raising a child is a lot of responsibility and it is also very time consuming. That is why the effects that working mothers have on their children has become such a heated debate recently. The major problem that is posed by various experts is that because mothers have to work, they do not have enough time to devote to their children and raise them properly. However, the solution to this problem appears to be rather simple, it all depends on the perspective one takes when looking at the issue. The thing is, children that have working mothers become independent and are able to develop communicative skills interacting with other kids in the day care centers, which means that they are doing just fine while their mothers are working.
We will first explore the concerns associated with the working mothers and the effects it has on their children, to be followed by elaboration on why it is not actually a problem. Many mothers start their day as early as 5 a. m. to get their children dressed, fed, and off to school or day care before they report to their own jobs. (Kamerman, p. 44) After putting in an eight hour day and in many cases considerably more, the working mother must rush home to relieve the babysitter or pick up her kids from daycare.
In addition, many children are involved in extra-curricular activities and this too consumes a considerable amount of time. On top of this a mother must provide nutritious meals for her family, clean the house, do the laundry, and help with homework. Many working mothers acknowledge that they simply don't have enough time in their lives to accommodate both career and family as well as they would like to, but most say they are happier working outside the home than not. Because women want a career or because the family needs the extra paycheck, household responsibilities, children's needs are often compromised as a result.
It is too difficult for a mother to handle all of the responsibilities of day to day life for the most part on her own. These levels of work strain often lead to stress in the home and can ultimately affect a woman's health in a negative way. The increased strain in working mothers comes from the reality that women still carry most of the child-rearing and household responsibilities. There is solid evidence of the physical impact of "role overload" among working mothers. The evidence shows that the increased demands on working mothers often results in physiological changes associated with ill health. (Bodin, p. 90) While many husbands may be pitching in more at home, they often finish their assigned tasks and then relax. A working mom is virtually always on call and responsible for managing the details of home.
There is often something unexpected to cope with -- spilled milk, lost homework, a sick child, and the search for new child care. Nancy L. Marshall, EdD, of Wellesley College's Center for Research on Women hold what she calls a "scarcity hypothesis", which presumes that people have a limited amount of time and energy and that women with competing demands suffer from overload and inter-role conflict. (Bodin, p. 111) Ulf Lundberg, PhD, professor of biological psychology at the University of Stockholm studied this area further. He developed a "total workload scale." (Kamerman, p. 71) Using the scale, he has found that women typically spend more time working at paid and unpaid tasks than men.
Lundberg also found that age and occupational level do not make much difference in terms of women's total workload. What does make the difference is whether they have children. In families without children men and women work about 60 hours a week. In a family with three or more children, women spend approximately 90 hours a week in paid and unpaid work, while men typically spend only 60. (Kamerman, p. 74) "Women's stress is determined by the interaction of conditions at home and at work, whereas men respond more selectively to situations at work", explained Lundberg, adding that men seem to be able to relax more easily once they got home. (Kamerman, p. 78) Considering that the cost of living is on the rise with seemingly no end in site, it has becoming increasingly difficult if not impossible for mothers to work only the "second shift", namely running a household and raising children. Husbands need to take start taking a more pro-active approach to domestic responsibility and in turn they will have a much happier and healthier spouse and family. One can only hope that men will not only wake up and smell the coffee but make it as well.
However, there is another approach to the problem of working mothers. For many years women have believed that if they returned to work after having children, their children would be harmed by the lack of a mothers presence. Studies have shown though, Despite the declining population of young people, the number and proportion of children with working mothers rose steadily during the past decade (Bodin, p. 157). In fact, 1979 was the first time more U. S. children lived in families with a mother in the labor force than in families with a mother who was a full-time homemaker (Bodin, p. 184).
Mothers no longer have to worry; they are free to choose the career path they want to follow. Mothers can make this decision with confidence because experts believe that a mother who works has a positive effect on her children. Children with mothers in the workforce are taught responsibility, independence, the importance of an education, and also social skills that are acquired from day-care. There are still a few experts that argue children are negatively affected by the absence of their mother. They believe that this absence can cause an attachment disorder. Some also report that the lack of their mother can make it harder for a mother and child to form an effective relationship.
A recent study suggested Returning to work later and having more breaks in employment was associated with more compliant and better behaved children (White, p. 28). However, this same study also noted that the difference was very tiny and disappeared by the age of 5 (Norris, p. 138). The effect of a working mother on her children has always been a controversial issue that experts have argued for decades. The change in maternal roles can only have positive effects, helping children to become more responsible and more independent (Norris, p. 142). Children of working mothers often complete some of the tasks that the mother would normally perform. For example many children with two working parents learn more quickly to clean their rooms, fix their own snacks, and pick out their own school clothes.
These children also learn to rely on themselves or further research for answers to the nights homework questions. Being assigned chores around the house and yard is a developmental process (Kamerman, p. 123). This amount of responsibility can teach a child many lessons that he will use for the rest of his life with family and career. Independence is an important value that children must be taught in order to become successful.
An expert in the field of child psychology, J. McCord expresses his beliefs that working mothers stress independence training more than do non-working mothers (Kamerman, p. 130). Independence allows a child or teenager to determine what he wants from his life. This can help a child set his own goals and also make him strive toward these goals. A child who is dependent on his parents throughout life can have problems when he is forced to experience life without his parents. A teenager must be able to successfully and happily live without being constantly dependent on parents and other adults for money, decision making, as well as simple every day tasks.
A good quality education is a necessity for children that want to thrive in the working world. A child often looks at a working mother as a very influential role model. A working mother has a great effect, especially on a female child, maternal employment affects the female childs concept of herself and the behavior expected of her (Skelsey, p. 54). Studies have also proven that the children of a working mothers have higher academic and career aspirations and show a higher level of achievement than the children of a non working mothers (Skelsey, p. 70). Children learn almost everything from their parents, which is why it is important that parents provide an adequate and accurate role model for the children to follow. Children whose parents are not educated often do not feel the need to be educated themselves.
Financial security is another factor that determines whether or not a child attends college. Possibly extra money in the house would make it easier for children of employed women to plan on college. (Skelsey, p. 88) Louis Hoffman also states many employed mothers, often indicate they are working solely to help finance their childrens college education (Skelsey, p. 92). High quality day care centers provide opportunities for exploring and creating, for positive social interactions, and for language learning. Recent studies have proven The higher the quality of child cares in the first three years of life the greater the childs language abilities at 15, 24, and 36 months (Levine, p. 64). Thousands of preschoolers live in two different worlds; that of their family and that of the day care center. In fact many of these preschoolers spend most of their waking hours at the day care center.
Effective social skills are an important part of a childs life; these skills are often taught and stressed at day care centers. Children in day care interact with other kids on a constant basis; this interaction allows the children to enhance their communication and motor skills. Another advantage of group care is the friendships that children develop with their peers during the care. One expert observed that childs contacts with each other often develop a sibling-like quality (Finsterbusch, p. 241).
Some children involved in this study even went to one another's homes to have dinner, to play on weekends, and occasionally, to stay for the night. The mother who works as a professional has an extremely different influence on her children than one who works in a less intellectually demanding job or one who does not work at all. Children learn from the environment and the people that they are exposed to in life, especially in the early stages. When children are exposed to hard working parents it helps them to appreciate the value of responsibility and independence. The importance of a good education is immeasurable and is also a necessity for a child to grow into a prosperous adult. Another important factor that affects a child is the day care environment that the child is exposed to on a daily basis.
A good day care provider can teach a child many skills. A child can also learn from the other children that they spend many hours with in day care. Bibliography: Bodin, Jeanne and Bonnie Mitel man. Mothers Who Work. New York: Ballantine, 1997.
Finsterbusch, Kurt and George McKenna, eds. Taking Sides. Guilford: The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc. , l 984. Hagedorn, Robert, et al. , eds. Sociology. Dubuque: Wm.
C. Brown Company Publishers, l 983. Kamerman, Sheila B. and Cheryl D. Hayes, eds. Families That Work: Children in a Changing World.
Washington D. C. : National Academy Press, l 996. Levine, Karen. "Mother vs. Mother. " Parents (June, l 995): 63 - 67.
Norris, Gloria and Jo Ann Miller. The Working Mother's Complete Handbook. New York: Plume, l 994. Skelsey, Alice.
The Working Mother's Guide to Her Home, Her Family and Herself. New York: Random House, l 990. Smith, Ralph E. , ed. The Subtle Revolution, Women at Work. Washington, D.
C. : The Urban Institute, l 989. Swann-Road, Lisa. "Careers. " Baby Talk (April, l 985): 6. White, Burton L. "Should You Stay Home With Your Baby?" American Baby (October, l 997): 27 - 28, 30.
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