Maternal employment in relation to maternal attitudes and infant development
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This study examined the impact of maternal work status on maternal attitudes and infant development at one year. The relative impact of maternal conflict over work status was also explored. 83 mother-infant dyads were studied. Variables included maternal work hours per week, infant age when mother returned to work, maternal conflict over work hours per week, maternal conflict over infant age when mother returned to work, and maternal satisfaction with parenting. Infant scores on the Bayley Mental Development Index (MDI) as well as ratings of mother and infant facial displays of emotion during the administration of the Bayley were examined.;Multiple regression analyses were used to estimate the degree to which all of the maternal variables predicted infant performance on the Bayley and infant facial display of emotion during the Bayley. Pearson product-moment correlations were used to evaluate the relationships within maternal variables, within infant variables, and between maternal and infant facial display of emotion.;A significant relationship was found between maternal work status and maternal attitude toward relative importance of parenting versus working. Mothers who valued parenting more than working worked fewer hours per week and returned to work when their infants were older. Conversely, mothers who valued work more than parenting worked more hours per week and returned to work earlier. Consequently, maternal conflict over work status was minimal in this sample and did not have enough variability to be a meaningful predictor variable. Neither maternal conflict over work hours per week nor maternal conflict over infant age at work return proved to be significantly related to maternal satisfaction with parenting, maternal facial display of emotion, infant Bayley scores or infant facial display of emotion.;Although no linear relationships were found between maternal work status and infant development, a curvilinear relationship was found between maternal work hours per week and infant Bayley scores. Infants with mothers who were home full-time or worked up to three hours per week scored higher on the Bayley. Infant Bayley scores decreased significantly when mothers worked between 3 and 25 hours per week, and then increased significantly when mothers worked between 25 and 58 hours per week. Age of infant when mother resumed employment during the first year of life did not significantly predict infant outcome variables.
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