Academic journal article Education

How Does Maternal Employment Affect Children's Socioemotional Functioning?

Academic journal article Education

How Does Maternal Employment Affect Children's Socioemotional Functioning?

Article excerpt

Introduction

An increase in maternal employment emerges as one of the irreversible and pervasive trend across the globe. The pervasive phenomenon arouses the interest of most of the researchers to study the effect of maternal employment on diverse dimensions such as marital relationship (Epstein, 1970), stress (Segre, 1978), life satisfaction of mothers (McCroskey, 1980) and self-concept of mothers (Segre, 1978). The disproportionate share of interest is precipitated in the impact of maternal employment on socioemotional development of children as maternal employment is considered as a crucial determinant to affect the transmission of intergenerational social, cultural and intellectual capital to children (Harvey, 1999). A contentious debate is then sparked. Developmentalists such as Bowlby (1969) argued that the secure attachment to mother or other primary and sensitive caretakers was so crucial to the formation of internal working model of the preschool children in the first two years of life. Experimental results derived from the "Strange Situation" indicated that attachment security was associated with the warmth and responsiveness while insecure infants showed intrusive and resistant behavior (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). On the other hand, Schater (1981) demonstrated that maternal employment was conducive to the independence of the children. Besides, maternal employment facilitates the shaping of non-traditional gender roles and career aspiration among girls (Baruch, 1972). The aforesaid positive children's development becomes more evident when the family benefit from an increase in income (Harvey, 1999).

The controversy is further clouded by the interaction of multiple factors. No single factor suffices to conclude the relation between maternal employment and children's development (Belsky, 1990). Belsky's (1990) assertion is empirically validated by the effect of maternal employment in the proxies of job satisfaction (Barling & Van Bart, 1984), job involvement (Barling & Van Bart, 1984), role conflict (Barling & Van Bart, 1984; MacEwen & Barling, 1991), economic security (Fuller, Caspary, Kagan, Gauthier, Huang, Carroll & McCarthy, 2002), economic distress (McLoyd, 1990; McLoyd, Jayaratne, Ceballo & Borquez, 1994), nonstandstard schedule (Barnett & Gareis, 2007; Dunifon, Kalil, Crosby & Su, 2013), intensity of maternal employment (part-time vs. full-time) (Coley & Lombardi, 2013), timing of maternal employment after childbirth (Coley & Lombardi, 2013), workplace policies (Estes, 2004) on socioemotional development of children mediated by mothers' psychological functioning (Estes, 2004; Fuller et al., 2002; MacEwen & Barling, 1991; McLoyd, 1990; McLoyd, Jayaratne, Ceballo & Borquez, 1994), childrearing efficacy (Fuller et al., 2002), personal efficacy (Estes, 2004), parenting (Barnett & Gareis, 2007; Estes, 2004; Fuller et al., 2002; MacEwen & Barling, 1991; McLoyd, 1990; McLoyd, Jayaratne, Ceballo & Borquez, 1994), children's perception of economic distress (McLoyd, Jayaratne, Ceballo & Borquez, 1994), instrumental support (McLoyd, Jayaratne, Ceballo & Borquez, 1994), social support (Fuller et al., 2002; McLoyd, 1990), child care (Coley & Lombardi, 2013; Fuller et al., 2002) father's time with children (Barnett & Gareis, 2007) while keeping all other controlling factors such as children's characteristics (Coley & Lombardi, 2013; McLoyd, 1990), maternal characteristics (Coley & Lombardi, 2013; McLoyd, 1990) and father's characteristics (McLoyd, 1990) constant.

Not only does the interaction of a myriad of factors affect the relation between maternal employment and children's socioemotional outcome, but also the dynamics of theoretical perspectives does. The dynamics of theoretical perspectives anchored on three waves of development.

The first wave of theoretical perspective purported the maternal deprivation in which the maternal absence exerted debilitating effect on the early development of children (Gottfried & Gottfried, 2006). …

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