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Working moms with babies feel better than stay-at-home

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
North Carolina researchers found moms with infants who work are happy.

Moms with infants and preschoolers who work full or part time are healthier and happier overall than stay-at-home mothers, find psychologists.

Findings for a study were taken from The National institute for Child Health And Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development that started in 1991.

The study included interviews with 1361 women whose babies were just born . The researchers interviewed an undeserved the women’s behavior over a period of 10 years.

The study showed women who work full or part time are happier and healthier than their counterparts who stayed at home.

"In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working," said lead author Cheryl Buehler, PhD, professor of human development and family studies, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. "However, in many cases the well-being of moms working part time was no different from moms working full time."

Moms who worked part time or more involved with their children than women who work fulltime, but both groups felt that working contributed to family life and made them a better parent.

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Study co-author Marion O’Brien, PHD said, "Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and well-being 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."

Women in this study were from 24 ethnic backgrounds and lived throughout the U.S. - 14% were single parents, and 1% did not have a high school degree.

For the study, part time employment was defined as working between one and 32 hours per week.

The researchers say more studies are needed because the current investigation focused on one child in the family.

The study is published by the American Psychological Association.

The finding is important for women who want to work but are unsure if their infants or preschoolers would suffer from absence of maternal presence in the home. This study shows mothers employed full or part time are happier and healthier than their stay at home counterparts, regardless of whether they worked fulltime or part time.

Image credit: Morguefile