Working Women's Selection of Care for Their Infants: A Prospective Study

By Pungello, Elizabeth Puhn; Kurtz-Costes, Beth | Family Relations, July 2000 | Go to article overview

Working Women's Selection of Care for Their Infants: A Prospective Study


Pungello, Elizabeth Puhn, Kurtz-Costes, Beth, Family Relations


Working Women's Selection of Care for Their Infants: A Prospective Study*

We interviewed 102 employed women before and after the birth of their first child to examine: (1) the influences of environmental constraints and maternal beliefs on mothers' care decisions, and (2) change in environmental constraints and beliefs. Both employmentrelated constraints and maternal beliefs were related to infant care decisions, and mothers who chose nonparental versus parent-only care differed in how their constraints and beliefs changed over time. Implications for practitioners are discussed.

Key Words: child care, infants, parental beliefs.

In the United States, an estimated 60% of women with children age 1 and under are working at least part time, and the large majority of these mothers select a non-maternal care arrangement for their infants (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1995). Given the importance of child care selection in the lives of mothers and their children, researchers have begun to investigate factors that influence mothers' decisions. Pungello and Kurtz-Costes ( 1999) recently reviewed this literature and proposed a theoretical model that identified three types of influences on child care search and selection behaviors: environmental constraints (e.g., need to work for income, work schedule flexibility), maternal beliefs (e.g., attitudes toward child care), and child characteristics (e.g., child's age). These authors also proposed that care selection decisions might lead mothers to change aspects of their environment as well as cause changes in maternal beliefs and attitudes. For instance, a mother who decides to stay home with her infant might arrange to work out of her home, thereby changing her work situation. This same mother might become more persuaded over time about the benefits of staying home with her infant and of the detriments of nonparental care. Thus, not only are environmental and belief factors proposed to influence care selection, but conversely, mothers' selection of infant care is hypothesized to lead to changes in their environmental constraints and beliefs.

Strong empirical support for these bi-directional relationships has not yet been established due to a methodological weakness of much of the work in this area. Most of the studies that have examined this topic have employed retrospective designs. That is, because mothers' beliefs and environmental constraints have been assessed after care was selected, the direction of causality in these studies is unclear. Further, of the few studies that have employed prospective designs (e.g., NICHD, 1997), most have not examined changes in these constructs over time. Therefore, the purposes of the current study were to examine the influences of maternal factors (environmental constraints, beliefs) on infant care selection, and to document changes in those maternal factors after care selection with a prospective, longitudinal research design. We chose to focus on mothers because in the vast majority of families, it is mothers who have primary responsibility for finding and selecting nonparental care arrangements (e.g., Atkinson, 1991; Bradbard & Endsley, 1986; Clarke-- Stewart, 1993).

Influences of Environmental Constraints and Beliefs on Care Selection

Environmental constraints. We define environmental constraints as any characteristics of the mother's environment that constrain or limit her choices regarding infant care (cf. Cairns, McGuire, & Gariepy, 1993; Pungello & Kurtz-Costes, 1999). For working women soon to have their first child, constraints related to employment may be particularly salient. For example, if a couple relies heavily on the wife's income, it would be difficult for her to take a lengthy unpaid leave after her infant's birth. In the current study, we examine three environmental constraints that are hypothesized to influence mothers' infant care choices: income constraints, flexibility of the mother's day-to-day work schedule, and long-term career goals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Working Women's Selection of Care for Their Infants: A Prospective Study
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.