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PAT - I'm glad my mother stayed at home most of my childhood. My wife is able to do the same. The church encourages this when possible. Is there a study you know of that states the benefits and/or downfalls of the mother staying home and the effects whether postive or not on the children?

JOEL - There have been some studies that suggest that there are no harmful effects on the children, but there are many others that indicate the opposite.

In the book "Eternal Families" by Daniel K. Judd, Douglas E. Brinley, the authors report on some statistics about working mothers. They found that initial research supported the notion that the children of mothers who worked out of the home were not harmed by the mothers absence. However, this early research focused only on the academic achievement of children rather than such important things as values, morals, self-concept, character, depression, sexual activity, and peer relationships. Thus, this early research comparing children with well-educated working mothers to children with mothers who were homemakers was not a valid comparison. For working mothers, research has demonstrated that "quality time" is not the solution so many hoped it would be to make up for being away from children. Quality time didn't seem to be valuable to the children, and they had a surprising amount of anger and resentment about their absentee parents. (Gross, David M., and Sophronia Scott. 1990. Proceeding with caution. Time (July 16):56-62.)

Other research has shown that both working mothers and their school-age children agree that when a mother works, she has too little time to spend with her children (Gottfried, A. E., A. W. Gottfried, and K. Bathhurst. 1988. Maternal employment, family environment and children's development: infancy through the school years. In Maternal Employment and Children's Development, ed. A. E. Gottfried and A. W. Gottfried, 11-53. New York: Plenum.).

What this boils down to is that in a child's perspective the deffinition of "quality time" is quantity time and that children still had other problems in regards to their morals, self-esteem, and sense of security. Here's some other related information on this subject:

For every ten hours a week a mother works, the odds of having a child who is overweight by the age of 3 are increased by about 10 per cent: LINK

More on overweight children of working mothers: LINK

Mothers who return to full-time work before their children start school may be damaging their offspring's future exam results: LINK

A government child-care study has found that early maternal employment has negative effects on children's intellectual development: LINK

The children of mothers who return to work full time in the years before they start school have slower emotional development and score less well in reading and maths tests: LINK

On the other hand:

Working mothers may be less depressed and enjoy better health and higher self-esteem than stay-at-home moms and as a result are more likely to encourage a happy and challenging life for her kids. LINK

Kids who spend time in day care centers because of a working mother tend to socialize better: LINK

Kids in day care have an enhanced vocabulary, an improved and better developed immune system, and better socialization skills. LINK

It is difficult to make a judgment from studies of children of working mothers, because for every study that suggests there is a negative impact on the child there are others that say just the opposite. I think however that the former outweighs the latter. Every parent has to evaluate their own situation based on what they know about their own children and what they can handle.

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