The common attitude of Indian society has usually not been encouraging towards mothers joining work back after the birth of their babies. This is because of the gender-specific parenting roles that have been carried down the generations whereby the father was the provider and the mother was the nurturer. With time and owing to socio-economic changes, women are no longer content being a homemaker and a mother. A woman’s ambitions and career are as important as that of her partner and she is willing to work doubly hard to manage both home and work simultaneously.
However, every working mother does wonder what affect her being away at work will have on the little one. Such apprehension is more pertinent in today’s nuclear family set up where the infant is left in the sole care of a nanny when the parents go to work.
Studies have shown that in case the mother joins full-time employment before the infant is 3 months old, the child may show behavioural issues by the age of 4 years. However, children of mothers ho worked part-time showed fewer instances of disruptive behaviour. Such children whose mothers worked part-time during the infancy period also had a better quality of life, access to more regulated child care options, greater emotional security and were seen to be less prone to long terms mental issues like depression and anxiety in later life.
Children whose mothers worked full time were found to score lower in cognitive tests than children whose mothers worked part-time. The full-time working mothers were also found to be more prone to depression when compared to the part time mothers.
Though research is still ongoing to arrive at definite conclusions, it can be said at this point that infants are dependent on their mothers in many ways and not just for basic care and nutrition received through breast milk. A child feels physically and emotionally secure when the mother is around. The same sense of security cannot be provided by the hired help or even another family member. An infant is more likely to pick up cues and skills by observing and imitating the mother than any other member of the family during the first year of life.
The mother’s presence is crucial for proper emotional development of an infant and cognitive growth. Hence, the mother should consider these aspects before arriving at a decision on rejoining work immediately after the birth of her baby.