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#Working Mother

# working-mother - Tuesday 13 September, 2016

From The Daily Edge People are loving this great photo of a working mam just getting on with the job Dr Mom

# working-mother - Friday 29 January, 2016

'What if he says a new word? What if he forgets me? The back-to-work guilts are the worst'

The fear of missing out is something every mother experiences returning to work after maternity leave, writes Jennifer Ryan Moran.

# working-mother - Thursday 7 August, 2014

Motherhood and Work: 'I accept that I'll never be Superwoman – I'll be Mediocre Mum'

‘Having it all’ can really mean ‘doing it all’ – and that’s just plain exhausting. So don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

# working-mother - Sunday 9 February, 2014

Column: Motherhood, feminism and the big decision

Should I stay at home with my baby or go back to work? There’s no ‘right’ answer, writes Ann Marie O’Sullivan.

# working-mother - Thursday 30 January, 2014

Column: Yes, I leave work on time – that doesn't mean I don't work hard

Employers need to ensure they’re not discriminating against working parents that are organised enough to leave at 5 o’clock – judge the output, not the hours, writes Andrea Mara.

# working-mother - Sunday 29 September, 2013

Column: Baby v Career – how to pick a path through the minefield of working motherhood

Throughout the eventful months of pregnancy, and amid all the changes a new baby brings, one question can remain the hardest to answer: “Will you be returning to work?”, writes Sarah Crown.

# working-mother - Wednesday 4 August, 2010

THE DEBATE has raged long and hard.

On one side; softly smiling earth mothers wearing cosy knitted jumpers. On the other; hard-nosed, materialistic career women flashing filofaxes and painted talons.

But which type of woman will win the battle over their child’s development?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is neither.

Why? Because neither actually exist. And while most of us realise that each person is a complex individual and that relationships between complex individuals are, well, complex… it’s taken a little bit more time for some of those studying childhood development to catch up.

Enter the new ‘groundbreaking’ study into maternal employment. Why is it groundbreaking? Because it looks at the full picture (again, this may seem obvious – sadly, it hasn’t been.)

Over the past two decades countless studies on maternal employment have been produced, with widely varying results. Some blast mothers for going back to work within a year of giving birth, others say it’s a no-no to go back to the office until your child is three or four – and yet others seem to endorse parting ways with your newborn as soon as you leave the hospital.

But the latest study, by New York’s Columbia University School of Social Work, was published last week, and paints a very different picture.

The Observer quotes Jane Waldfogel, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, talking about the study:

This research is unique because the question we have always asked in the past has been: ‘If everything else remains constant, what is the effect of a mum going off to work?’ …But of course everything else doesn’t stay constant, so it’s an artificial way of looking at things. Family relationships, family income, the mental health of the mother all change when a mother is working and so what we did was to look at the full impact, taking all of these things into account.

In contrast to more limited studies conducted in recent years – which didn’t take trivial matters such as the mental health of a mother into account – this study has found that a mother returning to work does not automatically have a negative on a child.

The study outlines that there are disadvantages, of course, but says there are also advantages. So, weighing up the whole picture, the overall effect of a mother returning to work on her child is… neutral.

Waldfogel says that the parenting style itself is most important factor in a child’s development, not whether a mother is employed or not. “It is hugely important how sensitive you are to your child’s needs,” she explains.

The results will no doubt be welcomed by fretting mothers everywhere who guiltily leave the house in the morning, either through desire or necessity, wondering just how badly they are messing up their kids.

Sam Willoughby, founder of website Mum and Working, told The Observer:

So many things make working mothers feel awful, but the reality is, as this study shows, that going back to work is acceptable. There is a notion that mothers should spend all their time with their children but that is wrong. You need to also do things that are just for you. And a career can give you that.

And a recent revelation by actor Emma Thompson further explodes preconceptions about motherhood; Thompson’s declaration that she doesn’t – and doesn’t want to -  “have it all” has led some to despair. (After all, if Emma Thompson thinks of having it all as “a revolting concept“, what hope is there for us mere mortals?)

But perhaps the sensible findings of the Society for Research in Child Development could be applied here too: figure out what’s best for you, concentrate on listening to your child’s needs, and stop worrying about perfection.

What a refreshing concept.