"A Little Thing Called 'Science' Disputes Phil Bryant's Working Mother Claim" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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A Little Thing Called 'Science' Disputes Phil Bryant's Working Mother Claim

I guess it's no surprise that Gov. Phil Bryant told The Washington Post that education went to pot when women started entering the workplace: We're guessing he's a fan of FOX News, and they've been hawking that meme, Melanie Tannenbaum blogs at Scientific American. Even thought it's news to us who never look at FOX News, apparently they've been arguing this issue there of late, with a bunch of men blaming working mothers for behavioral and educational problems, even though serious research shows otherwise. Imagine.

Tannenbaum writes:

[W]hen looking at samples where the families were on welfare, children whose mothers worked while they were very young (1-3 years old) actually performed significantly better on measures of overall achievement and had significantly higher IQs , although there were no differences when it came to performance on formal achievement tests. On the contrary, when looking at samples where the families were not on welfare, there were no differences in overall achievement or IQ between the children whose mothers worked and did not work during their early childhood years, although higher SES children whose mothers worked while they were young actually did slightly worse on formal achievement tests.

What if we look at whether or not the child is coming from a single-parent household? Same story. Children who lived with single mothers performed better on measures of overall achievement and IQ if these single moms worked while the kids were very young. Children who lived in two-parent households, on the other hand, showed no differences in overall achievement or IQ, but did worse on formal achievement tests if their mothers had worked.

And what about behavioral problems, like externalizing behaviors (aggression or impulsivity) or internalizing behaviors (depression or anxiety)? After all, if lower-income children whose parents work outside the home have higher IQs but also have higher rates of depression and anxiety, that’s still a problem, right?

Sure, it would be a problem — if that were the case. But it’s not. Once again, the pattern is the same. Children who lived with single mothers who had worked outside of the home while the kids were very young actually exhibited significantly lower rates of overall behavior problems, significantly lower rates of aggression and impulsivity, and marginally lower rates of depression and anxiety. Children from two-parent households showed no such difference in overall behavior problems, aggression, or impulsivity, though they also showed lower rates of depression and anxiety. So, across the board, when mothers worked outside of the home where their babies were very young, it didn’t matter if they were single mothers or members of a two-parent household. Looking across a wide variety of racial and socioeconomic groups, studies either found no relation between employment and behavioral problems, or they found that children whose mothers worked while they were young actually had fewer behavioral problems and better academic outcomes than their counterparts whose mothers stayed at home.

The data keep telling the same story, no matter how you look at it. According to the data (which, again, covers over 100,000 children across almost 70 different studies conducted over 50 years), having a mother who works outside of the home, if anything, might actually be MORE BENEFICIAL for children from lower-income families or single-mother households than having their mothers stay at home. For children from wealthier families, there is either no difference between the children of working and stay-at-home Moms, or the children of stay-at-home mothers fare a bit better.

Hat tip for this blog link to Cottonmouth Blog.

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