The general consensus has been that babies of stay-at-home mums receive more nurture-time than those whose parents are full-time workers. It’s a logical conclusion, right? The more time you spend at home with your children, the more they will be cuddled and held and read to, which will in-turn help them grow in to well-rounded and emotionally balanced members of society.
Drawing on diary data from the parents of 3,000 babies between the ages of 3 and 14 months, an Australian study Breastfeeding and Infants’ Time Use suggests that mothers who work full-time spend on average 83 minutes less per day with their child in comparison to their stay-at-home counterparts. This statistic may not be met with a great deal of surprise, and – in isolation – will do little to deter those who believe the best care a child can get is directly from mom. But where the research (undertaken at the Australian Institute of Family Studies) opposes conjecture is in its assertion that children of working parents spend 81 minutes more per day with their fathers, and that any remaining deficit is made up by time spent with other relatives and carers.
So maybe those working moms and dads who feel guilty about the time they’re spending at the office instead of being at home with the kids should give themselves a break. In the view of AIFS director Alan Hayes, “this study presents encouraging signs that [working parents]appear to try and manage the responsibilities of work and raising families in a way that does not negatively impact on children.”
Continue the debate on our forum. Do you worry that your child suffers because of your decision to return to work, or are working parents better at managing their time to ensure their little ones don’t miss out?