A Working Mom (Outside The Home)

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole work-life balance and the idea that working outside the home can actually be a good thing for me and my future offspring. I read an article recently about children from households where the mother worked outside the home (no matter the total hours) and the impact that has on their future.

Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time, according to research by Kathleen McGinn and colleagues.

This is encouraging news! I believe that showing children that women can be successful outside the home helps them believe that they, too, can be successful outside the home. Not to say that being a SAHM is a bad thing, just that women who work outside the home shouldn’t feel like they are doing their children a disservice.

“In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time on child care and housework.” (NY Times)

This new study is part of a shift away from focusing on whether working mothers put their children at a disadvantage and toward a richer understanding of the relationship between work and family. I especially like the note about how sons of working mothers took on greater responsibilities around the home. This demonstrates that so much of how we are as adults is shaped by our experiences as children. Children who grow up with a father who takes a more active role in the child-rearing and housework influence their children by modeling more egalitarian behavior.

“There’s a lot of parental guilt about having both parents working outside the home,” McGinn says. “But what this research says to us is that not only are you helping your family economically—and helping yourself professionally and emotionally if you have a job you love—but you’re also helping your kids. So I think for both mothers and for fathers, working both inside and outside the home gives your kids a signal that contributions at home and at work are equally valuable, for both men and women. In short, it’s good for your kids.”

My mother both worked full-time when I was little and was a SAHM for a season when my sisters were born. She went back to work full-time when my sisters were in Elementary School. My step-father never took an active role around the house (unless you include repairs and outside work) and I vividly remember my mother being solely responsible for many of the domestic chores.

Craig is the main cook in our house and he’s very good about taking out the trash and doing home maintenance. I tend to be the one who does the dishes, and laundry, and indoor cleaning. I feel like we split our duties rather evenly. So, I’d love to know about you! Did you have a mom who worked outside the home? Did you have a father who took a more active role in the housework? How are your duties now as an adult? Please share! 🙂


4 thoughts on “A Working Mom (Outside The Home)

  1. Great post and points about how working outside the home can affect your daughter’s education and career goals. As a stay at home mom with 2 daughters I will have to see how it all pans out. My 17 yr old is working towards becoming a pediatrician and my 7 yr old wants to be a fashion designer. We’ll see! 🙂

    1. Thank you for commenting! I feel like it’s more of the example we set rather than strictly the job we do outside the home. Daughters who are brought up to believe they can accomplish goals related to their career aspirations are more likely to be successful in that endeavor.

  2. I stumbled across this quite by accident but it’s a good read nonetheless! It was very interesting to note how mothers who work outside the home actually help motivate their own daughters. My mom was a stay at home mom. She did work outside the home for a brief period of time but for the vast majority of my life, she stayed at home. My dad wasn’t around much when I was younger so we looked to our mom for everything. Part of me wants to follow in my mom’s footsteps and be a stay at home parent but realistically – that’s not gonna happen. But because my mom did expect me to be a stay at home wife, she never really talked about things like what I wanted to do with my future. She never encouraged me to be part of any teams or do any kind of extracurricular activities. As a result, I bounced around from job to job for a long time – even went through long periods of unemployment. I finally went to nursing school a few years ago and that’s been my career since then. So, yeah, parents have so much influence over the future paths their children take. My daughter sees me working and she knows that when she gets older, she’ll need to work too. I talk to her about her future and let her explore her interests so she won’t be like I was – bouncing from job to job and constantly dropping out of college.

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