The decision about whether to stay at home with your children or return to work is an agonising one for many parents. And even once the choice has been made mums who fall into the two different camps are often pitted against each other. Which is why latest research from two UK Universities isn’t necessarily welcome.
Researchers from Oxford University and the London School of Economics have revealed that children with working mums develop better than those of stay-at-home parents, while children whose mothers stay at home tend to be less advanced at talking, social skills and everyday tasks such as getting dressed.
The study suggests that little ones benefit from spending time in alternative childcare such as at nursery or with grandparents.
While there’s no doubt this is good news for working parents, it doesn’t take into consideration two major components – firstly that for some parents there simply is no choice, and secondly you have to do what YOU think is right for your own children and family.
But science hasn’t just thrown a light on the advantages to children of having a working parent. An alternative Noweigen study found there were extensive benefits for older children when their parents had more opportunity to stay at home. While a further study by Columbia University found that kids with stay-at-home mums score higher on intelligence tests than those with parents who work.
And back with the pros of working parents, a study from Harvard University found there are long-lasting benefits of having a working mother including daughters who go on to earn 23% more than their counterparts with SAHMs, sons who could be more involved partners in the future and daughters of working mums being more likely to go on to have a position of leadership than those with non-working mothers.
We could analyse the ins and outs and pros and cons of working parents Vs those who stay at home until our children have long grown up and fled the nest. The point is there are benefits for children for both having a parent who stays at home or a parent or parents who go out to work. And besides according to some child development experts how your child develops often has just as much to do with their individual personalities than whether their parents go to work.
What we should perhaps take from all the advice/studies/evidence is not necessarily that there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to raise our children, but that we need to support parents in the decision they make that is ‘right’ for them and their families.
Instead of focusing on what’s ‘best’ we should be striving to make it easier for mums and dads to be the best they can be, however they decide to parent. SAHPs should be offered the support they whether financial or other to feel able to bring up their little ones in the way they choose. While working parents should be offered the flexibility and support needed to survive the whole work/life juggle.
And no one should be villainised for doing what they think is right for their children.
What do you think? Should we stop pitting SAHPs and working parents against each other? Let us know @YahooStyleUK