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New Findings Prove Kids of Working Moms Become Happy Adults

Back in 2015, preliminary results from a Harvard study revealed that daughters of working moms are more likely to be employed, hold supervisor roles and earn more than daughters of stay-at-home moms. But those aren't the only ways kids benefit from having working moms.

Now that the full study has been released, there's a new revelation: Children of working moms turn out to be just as happy as kids of stay-at-home moms, when asked about overall life satisfaction.

Take that, working mom guilt! As the research suggests, you can have a career/not be with your kids all the time, and your children will turn out just fine.

Commenting on the findings, which are published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, Harvard Business School Professor Kathleen McGinn said, “People still have this belief that when moms are employed, it’s somehow detrimental to their children. So our finding that maternal employment doesn’t affect kids’ happiness in adulthood is really important.”

To conduct the study, researchers compared two cross-national social surveys—one from 2002 and 2012, and one from 2002 through 2013—involving over 100,000 men and women from 29 countries.

Just like the preliminary results, the final results also found a strong link between working moms and their daughter's future work performance, even after controlling for the mother's education. Daughters of working moms are 1.21 times more likely to be employed, regardless of whether their mothers' jobs were high skill or low skill. They're also 1.29 times more likely to be in supervisor roles, but only if their moms worked in medium- or high-skill jobs. And in the U.S. daughters of working moms earn $1,880 more per year than daughters of stay-at-home moms.

The research also yielded some other interesting revelations. While boys' careers are not influenced by having a working mom, sons of working moms spend an extra 50 minutes per week caring for family members, and hold more egalitarian gender attitudes than even daughters of stay-at-home moms. Daughters of working moms, meanwhile, spend an hour less on housework than children of stay-at-home moms, and both sons and daughters of working moms have more education than kids of stay-at-home moms.

As the study suggests, even though your kids might not say anything directly, they're paying attention to the great job you're doing, and applying what they're seeing into their lives as adults.

McGinn hopes the results will help provide working moms with reassurance when they have to leave their kids to go to work. “Women are socialized to believe mothers should stay home with their children, so when you separate from your kids every day for work, it can be painful. As we gradually understand that our children aren’t suffering, I hope the guilt will go away," she said.

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