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Labor & Parenting

September 1, 2012

is this Monday, and for many of us, it signals going back to school, or our children going back to school.

With this holiday engendering thoughts of parenting and the workforce, it is appropriate that a recent study has been released that involves both of these concepts. On Monday, August 20, the University of Akron released an article regarding new research that indicates that mothers who work full-time are healthier at age 40 than moms having difficulty finding employment, moms who work part-time, and moms who stay at home.

Essentially, the research findings indicate that work is good for a woman’s mental and physical health. In addition to getting the mother outside of the home and socializing with other adults, full-time work also provides women with more financial security.

Yet there is other research that indicates that working full-time might not be the best choice. Some additional new research indicates a correlation between mothers who work full time and unhealthy weight gain in children. According to this research, working mothers spend approximately 3.5 hours less per day on tasks related to their children’s diet and exercise. Yet another factor to consider is stress – in addition to the stress associated with raising a child, some mothers also suffer high levels of work-related stress. Some recently published research results showed that many working mothers have higher levels of stress hormones.

Some compromise was suggested in an article released in mid-May of this year, which mentioned Gallup survey results that indicate stay-at-home moms suffer more depression than mothers who work. This article accounts for the depression by mentioning the isolation and lack of fulfillment that can arise from staying at home, where the work that needs to be done never seems to be finished. Furthermore, the article suggests that mothers should strive to work part-time, thereby lessening the isolation while still allowing more time to be spent with the child(ren) than a full-time job would allow.

So with these differing studies and somewhat conflicting suggestions, what is the correct choice for women who have a choice about their work status after having children? Of course, the answer to this question is going to vary depending on the individual woman in question. In addition, there are other possible variables in the studies mentioned above, such as the father’s involvement. However, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

What do you think? Should women try to stay at home after their children are born? Should women work? If so, how often?

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