If you need another reason to let go of working mom guilt, just look to a study published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, which found that adult daughters of mothers who worked outside of the home were more likely to be employed, hold more supervisory responsibility, work more hours and earn higher incomes than their peers whose mothers were not employed.
The findings were based on two surveys of 100,000 adults in 29 countries. That’s great news for moms who worry that their time at the office will negatively affect their kids, and it flies in the face of conventional wisdom that it’s in the best interest of their children if moms do not work.
While the career benefit did not extend to sons of working moms, it did correlate with grown sons who contribute more in terms of childcare and household duties.
One reason daughters of working moms may be more successful in their own careers is because of the strong role models they had in their moms.
“When you’re watching your mom go to work every day, especially if you’re a girl, you’re learning how to manage what is a really complex life,” Kathleen McGinn, Harvard Business School professor and co-author of the study, told Time.
Premilinary findings from this research were first published in 2015, at which time McGinn pointed out that it did not show the effects of working moms on all aspects of their children’s lives, but rather just as it pertains to work.
“This research doesn’t say that children of employed moms are happier or better people and it doesn’t say employed moms are better,” McGinn told CNNMoney. “What it says is daughters are more likely to be employed and hold supervisory [sic] and sons spend more time in the home.”
And in fact, the full report in 2018 shows that adult children of working moms are just as happy as those who grew up with stay-at-home moms.
McGinn stresses that the findings should not discourage moms who choose not to work from continuing to do so but, rather, ease the minds of those who do want and/or need to work by reassuring them that it won’t negatively affect their kids.
“When women choose to work, it’s a financial and personal choice,” she said. “Women should make that choice based on whether they want or need to work, not based on whether they are harming their children—because they are not.”