Employer issues—maternity, compensated working hours, childcare facilities at the workplace, gender discrimination of working parents, especially in the academic field. Employee issues—fatigue, spousal support, parental support system, child care issues, child health issues e. According to this statute:. It is important for the development of children and the family unit that fathers and mothers are able to participate in early childrearing.
The lack of employment policies to accommodate working parents can force individuals to choose between job security and parenting. Due to the nature of the roles of men and women in our society, the primary responsibility for family caretaking often falls on women, and such responsibility affects the working lives of women more than it affects the working lives of men. Therefore, the need to support a working mother is well recognized.
It has also been explicitly mentioned that the dominant role in childcare is recognized and assumed to be that of the mother and that this responsibility affects the working life of women more than that of men. Certain common problems plague most working women. The Better Health Channelon the Web, ratified by the Government of Australia, states some of the common issues that may concern working mothers Better Health Channel, Foremost amongst these are income difficulties.
If the mother works, childcare support is essential and can be quite expensive. It may actually offset the financial benefits of both the parents working. In Asian countries, and in many joint family systems, grandparents and other nonworking family members fulfill the need for childcare—they take over the job of childcare when the mother is at work. This very important benefit of readily available child support from the family members themselves in joint families not only recognizes that the working mother is an important member of the family, but also provides her the necessary support to be able to perform her dual role efficiently.
Stress loads can be quite high amongst working mothers and these may often reflect in their relationships at home. She is stressed to reach work on time, to send her child to school and to reach all the children's deadlines on time including food and dress, and she is also pressed for time to look after her home simultaneously.
Housework is still considered the woman's domain. Working women shoulder additional responsibility of the work place as well as at their domestic front. Unexpected sickness of children is a calamity that can be difficult to handle. There often is need to use and avail of unpaid leave and unexpected absences from work.
Few employers would consider the needs of sudden leave requirements in women with young children. Even in double-income families, it is still the woman who is expected to take care of a sick child ibid. Sexual relationships can also be quite strained in working mothers.
Much of it can be attributed to lack of time and to fatigue, especially where both partners have long working hours ibid. Nutritional requirements may be neglected in the quest to complete and meet all targets at home as well as at work Finn, These women, whom Finn calls Everyday Heroes , use everything from the dashboard to the desktop as a dining table.
The result is an amazing variety of nutritional deficiencies, ranging from iron and vitamins to proteins. Despite confiding in their physicians many just do not get the support they need. The rush of married women into the workforce runs against traditional thinking that women must choose between family and career.
Many observers condemned working mothers as selfish, unnatural and even dangerous to their children and society Wilson, It was complained that the rise in juvenile delinquency could also be attributed to women who are working mothers, but needs and requirements of the family unit will always supersede ill-defined logic.
Women, motherhood or not, continue to work. The reasons are, more often than not, aspirational. Many of these mothers are young and have spent years developing their careers. When both spouses work it may be necessary for the mother to retain her job if she has insurance benefits, and if she wants to retire with better retirement benefits Edelman, Many of these women find the need to maintain a parallel source of income a social security and a sign of independence.
A mother may work out of a financial compulsion, a desire to fulfill herself, or to supplement the family income. In all of these three instances, she is a working mother, but the implications of her situation are different. A financial compulsion could be a less competent spouse with an inadequate income, or a single mother who is dependent on her earnings for survival.
A second income from the mother adds to better living conditions and eases the stresses of struggling for a comfortable life. However, when the mother is returning to work purely to maintain and advance a career that satisfies her and keeps her independent, she comes under scrutiny and criticism Heilman and Okimoto, The working mother has to keep the convincing stance that she is working not just for her own sustenance, but also for the betterment of the family.
Working women changed the image of a good mother from one who stayed at home to one who also took on extra burden for her family's benefit. This would however not recognize the working mother as an important member of the workforce and an important worker in her own right! It is possible for a working mother to defend her right to work in a number of ways.
A less affluent member of society would simply say it brings in much needed extra money. A woman from a better class of living would say she has more money to spare and is utilizing her talents and skills to the best effect. A working mother's ability to deliver is considered with trepidation. Having decided to work, will the working mother be able to deliver efficiently at the work place?
Motherhood leads to a definite bias in employment for women seeking a job in traditionally male settings Heilman and Okimoto, In general, for both men and women, parenthood changes the way in which both men and women are viewed in terms of expected work focus, especially producing expectations of undependability.
The authors also add that there are possible heightened associations with gender stereotypes that occur when women are mothers; this may lead to heightened performance expectations that predispose greater negativity to be directed at mothers than at non mothers when career advancement decisions are made Heilman and Okimoto, They also noted that employment bias occurred against mothers irrespective of whether they were students or working people, and that women suffer definite disadvantages when at the workplace, a problem that has been called the Maternal Wall by Williams Heilman and Okimoto, ; Williams, It is well known that employment has positive effects on the mother Barnett, There is an underlying assumption that the roles of mother and wife have relatively less stress, as they are natural roles, whereas the role of employee, being unnatural, is therefore highly demanding.
This may question the ability of a woman to handle multiple roles without significant ill effects. There is also considerable rhetoric on the relationship of this unnatural employment to many social evils including juvenile delinquency and drug addiction Barnett, Regardless of the reasons, a young mother chooses to work, the workplace and work environment as a whole continue to be hostile. Shouldering dual responsibilities may actually decrease productivity at the work place.
Some of the research done has focused on mothers who are working in the academic field, and slower academic progress has been attributed to working mothers in academic medicine Carr et al. They attributed a definite relation between family responsibilities and gender to academic productivity. Having identified full-time academic faculty from 24 medical schools across the country, a point questionnaire was administered with the aim of describing dependent responsibilities by gender and to identify their relation to the aspirations, goals, rate of progress, academic productivity, and career satisfaction of male and female medical school faculty.
In this study, the authors noted that women with children published less even after controlling for variables such as years as a faculty member, number of hours worked per week, and hours of dependent responsibilities as noted from the peer reviewed publications ; they had slower self-perceived career progress and were less satisfied with their careers.
The difference seen between the genders was less apparent for faculty without children. Carr et al. They recommended special attention by scheduling fewer departmental meetings after working hours and making part-time tenures available for faculty Carr et al. Women's recovery from childbirth and their resumption of work and family commitments are likely to be influenced by such personal factors as preexisting health status, parity, breastfeeding, the availability of social support from family and friends and work-related factors, e.
Can a working mother do justice to both her work and her motherhood? The answers vary from a firm yes to a vehement no, and, more often than not, the answer lies not in the ability or competence of the woman as much as it does on her support system. A woman who was working before marriage will more often than not opt to take a protracted leave of absence to fully immerse herself in her motherhood. Some would even think of giving up their careers for good.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of states that it is necessary to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, to promote the stability and economic security of families, and to promote national interests in preserving family integrity; to entitle employees to take reasonable leave for medical reasons, for the birth or adoption of a child, and for the care of a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition, and to promote the goal of equal employment opportunity for women and men.
Most of these summarize succinctly the needs of a mother who is working. Caring for a child has the fundamental value of a serious health condition and has been valued as such, deserving that the parent be allowed to take time off for caring for the child.
This means that caring for a child is an essential duty that the parent has to perform and that cannot be substituted for in any other way. This is especially true in cases where the child is one with special needs Thyen et al.
Family support is highest among employed mothers and lowest in mothers who were employed neither currently nor before the child's illness, or who had quit employment to care for the child Thyen et al , Caring for a child assisted by technology seems to create barriers to maternal employment diminishing family resources at a time when financial needs actually may increase. Lack of family support and child care services increase the likelihood that mothers of children cared for assisted by technology will stay out of the labour force.
Remaining employed buffers the negative effects of care at home on maternal mental health Yantzi et al , Maternity leave provisions are essential for a working woman to effectively complete the transition from pregnancy to motherhood. Premature termination or too short a maternity leave may have undesirable consequences.
Studies often cite early return to work as one of the reasons for premature termination of breastfeeding. Shorter maternity leaves were associated with less sensitivity in interaction with the infant and more maternal depressive symptoms Clark et al. One-third of mothers return to work within 3 months of giving birth, and two-thirds return within 6 months.
Mothers who are not employed are more likely to initiate breastfeeding than those who are employed full time. At 6 months after delivery, full-time employment has a significant effect on breastfeeding. Much less of the employed mothers continue breastfeeding as compared to the mothers employed part time or unemployed mothers Ryan et al , Breastfeeding duration rates among professionally employed mothers can only be improved if negative attitudes about maternal bodies and employment are challenged and if employers, as well as mothers, are the focus of health initiatives aimed at promoting breastfeeding Gattrell, With the implications that this may have on neonatal well being, it may be necessary to have labour policies, including job-protected leaves from employment after birth, and labour standards that facilitate breastfeeding or the expression of breast milk at work Baker and Milligan, The authors noted an increase in maternity leave entitlements in Canada, rising from 6 months in the year to almost one year for mothers who gave birth after 31 December This includes job protected leave and entitlement for maternity benefits.
This led to a large increase in the amount of time before mothers returned to work post birth. An attempt at systematic review to assess whether interventions at the workplace help breastfeeding elicited no suitable trials Abdulwadud and Snow, A study of mothers Hansen et al.
Almost all families utilized the maternity leave, with the majority utilizing the full duration of 24 weeks, many electing to prolong the leave with their holiday and often beyond that period. At one year after delivery, significantly more mothers were housewives than before.
They recommended that maternity leave be extended. A positive association has been shown between maternal health and duration of breastfeeding with the length of maternity leave Staehelin et al. The authors found that longer maternity leaves were associated with lower perinatal, neonatal, and postnatal mortalities. Thus, maternity and child care leave provisions are essential for every working mother.
It enables her to nurture the young child efficiently and thus decreases morbidity. The durations of these absences are variable and can depend on so many factors that it may be difficult to fix a uniform period for maternity leave. It may be a function of social circumstance as much as a regional preference. A working mother from a joint family may need much less leave than a single mother, or a woman from a nuclear family and with no child support systems in the family.
Often provisions of child care in the office itself in the form of a nursery helps the mother resume work more seamlessly. Part-time work at the office and working from home may also help ease the stress. Part-time work allows women to cultivate outside interests, earn money, and have a defense from criticism of neglecting her children Wilson, A woman may keep a job just to keep the home fi res burning, while another may fight against all odds to pursue her career.
In the interests of working mothers in both these situations, a solid support system needs to exist, and the prerogative to work or not should lie entirely with the worker, as would be in the case of an ordinary working male. Parties concerned can exploit this situation, that is, a working mother may not be extended an adequate support system, or conversely, she may try to extract special concessions from her employer[s] at the cost of work ethics. Maternity leave, flexible working hours, child-friendly workplace sound extremely good, but what about the flip side?
Maternity leave is known to be extended, sometimes indefinitely. Often, the mother quits work altogether. Flexible working hours might adversely affect other employees, and would definitely require their cooperation. As for creating a workplace with childcare facilities, a sufficient number of female employees are desirable. An employer who has a larger number of female employees is likely to be more proactive in providing child care and nursing facilities at the workplace for the working mother.
Provisions for part-time employment and work at home opportunities are also easier to provide when the number of female employees, and thus the demand for such a facility, is greater. The cost-benefit ratio of these privileges needs to be examined.
The scale and size of the employer, the health conditions of the mother and child, social support, all play important roles. Definitely, guidelines need to exist and would vary across occupations. A working mother may work for pleasure or compulsion, but work ethics and professionalism must have their place. These in turn will generate more empathy towards working mothers from all quarters -- the employer, the spouse, the family and finally, society.
In short, good employees would generate more empathy and better co-operation from their employers. And an understanding and co-operative employer would be able to extract the best from his employee without misuse of the benefits given to them. Maternal health has been found to be negatively related to employment dissatisfaction. Studies Romito et al , ; Glezer looked at women in employment before the birth of the first child.
Public sector employees availed of most of the maternity leave. As much as half of the women who did not take maternity leave in the private sector were actually unaware of these options. Working in the public sector, a strong attachment to the workforce, trade union memberships, and education were some factors that affected leave taking amongst working mothers Glezer, A woman has the privilege to actually choose between work and motherhood. Social conditioning entails that the woman put home before career even though no expense has been spared in her education and upbringing towards being independent.
The equation in a household where both partners are employed changes with the arrival of a child. Maternal instinct ensures that in the initial crucial weeks; the baby is mostly, if not entirely, in the mother's care. During this period mother-child bonding becomes very strong and sees many women happily opting out of pursuing a career. Later on, financial implications of living on a single income and economic aspirations compel a majority of women to get back to work.
Career ambitions are also a big driving force for a mother choosing to work, especially one who is well qualified. Women who resume work after a few months are torn between career ambitions and natural childrearing instincts. Even in households where grandparents, relatives or babysitters attend to the child, a working mother still feels ridden with guilt.
In families where both the mother and father are equally involved in child rearing, the woman is able to experience less guilt and more satisfaction while being a working mother. Mutual understanding between spouses ensures that along with bringing in the income, both parents not only share the responsibilities of childcare and the immense fulfillment that comes with it, but also continue to enjoy each other's company as partners.
These attitudes and values are then propagated through the generations. That is why we do see many families where the working mother is not considered an anomaly but a welcome entity. This means that gender sensitivity must be cultivated at both the individual and social level so that as working parents, each partner has an equal responsibility towards the children, not merely by the ability to earn money but also by the inclination and commitment to be involved in the process of child rearing.
The effects of maternal employment on children are sometimes positive and sometimes negative Youngblut et al. Parents in non-employed mother families were more satisfied with their families at 18 months than parents in employed mother families Youngblut et al.
Curiously it was also found that the infant's motor development was positively correlated with number of hours employed per week and degree of choice for the employed mother families, but negatively correlated with choice for the non-employed mother families. These results suggest that maternal employment may not be detrimental for infants born prior to term. Indeed, it may be beneficial, especially if the mother has a choice in the matter Youngblut et al. Adolescents whose mothers began working reported statistically significant declines in psychological distress.
This pattern was strongest for their symptoms of anxiety. Studies Chase-Lansdale et al. Youngblut et al. They found that employed mothers had more positive perceptions and provided more enriching home environments for their children.
They noted that in single-parent families, employment and consistency are positive influences on the mother-child relationship. The answer to whether work pays as far as parenting is concerned is believed to be complex Raver, Women who held lower rung jobs experience much more negativity in their parenting styles. Considering that income increase is a really positive factor that leads to better mental health of the family unit in the long term, low wage jobs may not benefit the family unit materially or economically.
These factors can have an effect on the parenting style in working mothers Raver, Preschoolers experience a significant decline in time spent with their mothers when their mothers go to work and total time spent with the child has shown to decrease by as much as 2 hours per day. A trade off is found between time and money, as family income increases whereas mother's time with child decreases. Hence these two may offset each other.
Mothers may often compensate for this by decreasing social, educational and personal activities that do not involve the children Chase-Lansdale et al. The incidence of childhood obesity was found to increase with increases in maternal employment as the number of hours spent with the child decrease, thus decreasing access to healthy food and increasing dependence on junk food Hawkins et al. The Millennium Cohort Study Child Health Group stated that long hours of maternal employment, rather than lack of money, may impede young children's access to healthy foods and physical activity ibid.
Children were more likely to be overweight for every ten hours a mother worked per week and this relationship was significant for children from households with a higher annual income ibid. Fathers perceived their year-olds as having more problem behaviours when mothers were currently employed full time.
Fathers and teachers viewed children's behaviour as more problematic when less educated mothers had been employed during more years of the child's lifetime. Adolescents whose mothers began working reported statistically significant declines in psychological distress Chase-Lansdale et al. The effect of maternal employment on adolescent daughters was studied by Jensen and Borges and they noted that daughters of non-employed mothers had a closer relationship with their fathers, perceived them as happier and friendlier, and experienced less anger and tension in the home Jensen and Borges, With adolescents and teenagers an improvement in their mental health was found in correlation with increased incomes in the family.
Children need rules and limits to help them feel safe. It's also helpful for them to understand that parents make most of the important decisions that affect them and the reasons why. As they get older, children get to have more say about what happens in their lives. Even when they are little, children benefit from making some decisions, because they learn from making good and bad choices.
Sometimes breaking the limits you set is a good way for children to rebel and assert their independence in a safe way - better they test the limits at home than out in the wider community. The more you talk about big and small things with children every day from an early age, the more they are likely to talk to you about the things that worry them as they get older including the big things that worry you.
It is important for you to know who their teacher is, who their friends are, their interests and to recognise when they are behaving differently. If you know your child well you will see if they are upset, worried or unwell and know how to support them. Children also need honest answers about life and death, sexuality, parental mistakes and world news. Keep your answers age appropriate and apologise if you have made an error. It's better they learn things from you than from a dubious website or in the playground.
Children are quick to pick up on what they consider to be unfair, so try to be balanced. Try to balance your time and weekends fairly among all your children. Siblings know each other longer than anyone else in their lives, so the more you can do to encourage good relationships between them, the better it will be for them during childhood and later in life.
The views or opinions expressed in this information are general in nature and do not constitute professional advice. You may benefit from professional help to deal with individual and complex issues. Services Counselling. Family Dispute Resolution Process. Family Dispute Resolution Certificates.
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