Working mothers, are ‘warmer’ parents

Mothers who go back to work before their baby is six months old become “warmer” parents, a surprising study shows.

The Australian research, published in the international Journal of Family Studies, challenges the conventional wisdom that stay-at-home mums bond better with their babies.

The findings suggest mothers who miss their babies or feel guilty about heading back to work may try to compensate through affection and attention.

Mothers who stay at home with their babies for more than six months become more “distant” parents than those who return to work sooner, the research shows.

“Distant parenting means less warmth and affection towards the child,” one of the authors, Nina Lucas, said yesterday.

Ms Lucas, of Melbourne’s Parenting Research Centre, said these mothers felt less close to their child. She suggested mothers who had to rush back into the workplace might be more “intense” parents during their time at home.

“Mothers who took a short period of leave felt more warm and affectionate towards their child than those who took longer,” she said. “This . . . might be because women parent more intensely when they know they have limited time.”

The researchers also have good news for mothers who spend longer at home with their newborns before returning to work – they become calmer parents. The research – based on interviews with nearly 10,000 mothers – reveals those who take more maternity leave have less “psychological distress” two or three years later. Continue reading

Image: The Australian

Additional reading

News category: Features.

Tags: ,