Impact of working women on children
I am a working mom
Guilt is the most common feeling that most working mothers feel. As I understand, guilt comes from not just having to leave the child at home but also to leave work to nurse a sick child. I have experienced guilt when I left baby Drish to start my own school. But that I feel is the part of the life of every mother. A woman who has had a stay-at-home mom usually goes through the feeling of guilt at a higher level than the one who has grown up under someone who went out to work. What a working mother needs to ensure is that the child experiences varied interactions that allow language and emotional development to take place. These experiences could be with grandparents or the caregivers. It’s always useful to let the grandparents take charge of the children when the mother is out of the home. There are many women who feel that grandparents can pamper the children rotten. Rules of discipline can be discussed among the adults of the family to ensure that all speak the same voice. The other option would be to hire well trained caregivers. This may be tough at times, but you need to ensure that the person whom you entrust your child with is exactly that—trustworthy. Hiring someone who has done an Early Childhood course for example may be hired for a few hours a day so that she engages the child in a variety of child appropriate activities. Ensure that you create an atmosphere of interaction once you are back from work. Plan picnics with other young mothers so that your children can not only interact with kids their age, but also with other adults. I was talking to a group of working mothers in Bhopal Each one of them felt intensely guilty and sensed disapproval from their mothers and mothers-in-law. I asked them if they had thought of productive and helpful options such as an extended day care service? This group of mothers convinced their employers to allow them to work any five days of their choice. So now each mother runs a day care once a week for five children, with home cooked meals and involve the kids in age appropriate games and activities. The toddlers are not only having fun, but also gaining from the experience, and, of course, the mothers love the fact that they can spend time with the children. When they are at work they are at peace that their children are with someone they trust. Studies conducted by the American Psychological Association (1999) and the University of Texas show that there are no developmental problems in children whose mothers worked outside the home. Dr Aletha Huston, director of the research, states, ‘The mother is an important source of care, but then she doesn’t have to be there twenty-four hours a day to build a strong relationship with her child. Children are not affected by the mother’s absence. In fact what impacts the child is her personality and her beliefs, her values, and the time she spends with them. Staying at home is not the issue. Staying with the kid is.’
When talking about the working mother’s impact on children, we must realize how differently working mothers and stay-at-home mothers view discipline. Mothers who are at home usually tend to use either a more demanding or lenient approach to parenting than those who are working. Working mothers are more likely to use an approach that relies on reason, trust, and convincing power than the use of authoritative parental power. As compared to their counterparts, working mothers are found to differentiate less between sons and daughters in their disciplining styles and goal setting skills. Working mothers also value the independence of their daughters more than stay-at home moms.
Families with working mothers have different dynamics between the father’s and the families—fathers are more involved with the daily running of the household. They are more connected to their children as they realize the need to partner their responsibilities. They do not blind foldedly leave everything to their wives. Daughters with such fathers tend to have a greater sense of personal achievement.
The debate whether mothers should set out of home or sit at home will continue and we may or may not agree with the research. I think that working mothers feel a sense of empowerment, and, in turn, their confidence rubs off on the children in great measure. I believe that my son’s work ethic comes from me even though he must have felt neglected sometimes just like I had my pangs of guilt. Would he have felt short changed at times as a child? I am sure he did, but I am also sure that today he will say that having a working mother has more positives than negatives. Sometimes, as a woman, it is easier if you have to work for economic reasons rather thanwhen you choose to work. Drish has worked out his mantra or calling to ‘Be the voice of the common man in India’ and whether he does this through acting or any other means, I have no doubt that he will live up to his purpose. True self
fulfilment only happens when you have a purpose and work towards making it a reality.
There is a great deal of data pertaining to the influence of a self employed parent or an aspiring entrepreneur. A 30- year-old longitudinal study at the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, University of California, of a database of architects found that those who had acquired high levels of self-reliance at an early age were typically raised in an environment with one or more parents who were self employed. Young people steeped in such environments grow up to be more self-reliant, confident, resilient, and competent to make their own way in life. Conversely, when the income earning parent or parents work as employees, the offspring is more likely to seek employment rather than pursue entrepreneurial ventures.