Having A Working Mom Can Benefit Kids Later In Life, So Stop Guilting Yourself

by Julie Scagell
Image via Anna Altenburge/Getty Images

Girls with working moms are more likely to work themselves and make more money as adults

If you are a mom who works outside of the home, you’ve likely felt the guilt, stress, and frustration that comes with juggling work and family. At some point perhaps you’ve even contemplated if your career is somehow damaging your kids and if not being there every single second of their childhood makes you a bad mother (it doesn’t, for the record). But a new study shows their are some pretty real benefits for our kids growing up watching us in the workforce.

A team of researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom analyzed data on more than 100,000 men and women across 29 countries to find out if a mom who works outside the home has any impact on our kids as adults.

According to their findings, published in April in the journal Work, Employment, and Society, “adult daughters, but not sons, of employed mothers are more likely to be employed and, if employed, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility, work more hours and earn higher incomes than their peers whose mothers were not employed.”

Our sons fared just as well, spending more time as adults taking care of family members than those whose mothers who stayed home, but it wasn’t a significant predictor of his future career success.

Before anyone loses their cool, the study found no significant differences between a mom who works outside the home or a stay-at-home mom in terms of their child’s happiness as adults. And while this is good news for both sides, it may help alleviate some of the mom-guilt that those of us who have a career often feel.

“These findings add to a growing body of research providing a counterpoint to persistent beliefs and rhetoric that employed women are negatively affecting their families and society,” Kathleen McGinn, a professor at Harvard Business School and lead author of the study told CNN.

While some may feel the tides are turning in favor of working moms (though working moms would never say this ourselves), statistics say otherwise. According to a Pew Research survey, 59 percent of adults still believe children are better off with one parent at home (take a guess who they mean).

Let me repeat for everyone’s sake (and the comments section), this study was only intended to measure a mother’s employment and it’s impact on their kids as adults and and in no way suggests that there aren’t benefits to a child raised by a stay-at-home mom.

“What it says is, daughters are more likely to be employed” and hold supervisory responsibility, McGinn said. “And sons spend more time in the home.”