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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 14 October, 2019

#Child Development

From TheJournal.ie 'Government thinks it's perfectly acceptable for childcare workers to have absolutely no training' Column

'Government thinks it's perfectly acceptable for childcare workers to have absolutely no training'

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has rowed back on its promise that every childcare worker will need a minimum qualification by this September.

From TheJournal.ie Opinion: We can't afford NOT to invest in childcare and early education Childhood Education

Opinion: We can't afford NOT to invest in childcare and early education

Crèche fees in Ireland are among the highest in Europe – but that is no guarantee children are being well cared for.

From TheJournal.ie Where do all the cool kids go? Psychology

Where do all the cool kids go?

Not very far, a study seems to suggest.

From TheJournal.ie Column: What is the psychological impact of spending so much time in 'cyberspace'? CyberPsychology

Column: What is the psychological impact of spending so much time in 'cyberspace'?

There are serious legal, ethical and philosophical challenges to protecting children in this technological age, writes Mary Aiken.

From TheJournal.ie Column: Our children are an investment worth making Opinion

Column: Our children are an investment worth making

Budget 2014 is an opportunity to take stock of how we prioritise children and whether we put our money where our mouth is, writes Irene Gunning.

From TheJournal.ie Column: I'm a mother of a special needs child and a pro-choice advocate Opinion

Column: I'm a mother of a special needs child and a pro-choice advocate

Tracey Holsgrove explains the agony of contemplating how to proceed with her pregnancy after learning of her baby’s condition – and why she is a firm pro-choice advocate.

From TheJournal.ie Column: Embarrassed to talk about sex and porn? Ireland, this is your wake-up call Opinion

Column: Embarrassed to talk about sex and porn? Ireland, this is your wake-up call

Today’s young women and men are being educated about sex by watching hardcore porn online for years before they ever have their own first romantic or sexual experience. For their sake, it’s time to open up about real sex, writes Cindy Gallop.

From TheJournal.ie Column: Online bullying is fuelled by changes in our culture Opinion

Column: Online bullying is fuelled by changes in our culture

Some children may be missing out on a key stage of development, writes psychotherapist Joanna Fortune.

From TheJournal.ie Column: Taking kids to beauty salons? It’s far from child’s play Opinion

Column: Taking kids to beauty salons? It’s far from child’s play

From junior manicures to baby clothes reading “I’m too sexy” – this sexualisation of children isn’t just a bit of fun, writes Joanna Fortune.

From TheJournal.ie Babies can understand meaning of words from 6 months - study Coochy Coo

Babies can understand meaning of words from 6 months - study

New research indicates that infants as young as six months can understand the meaning of full words – twice as early as previously believed.

From TheJournal.ie Arguing parents could harm children's sleep patterns Child Development

Arguing parents could harm children's sleep patterns

Parents who row could affect the sleeping patterns of their infants for significant periods of time, new research has suggested.

THE DEBATE has raged long and hard.

On one side; softly smiling earth mothers wearing cosy knitted jumpers. On the other; hard-nosed, materialistic career women flashing filofaxes and painted talons.

But which type of woman will win the battle over their child’s development?

The answer, unsurprisingly, is neither.

Why? Because neither actually exist. And while most of us realise that each person is a complex individual and that relationships between complex individuals are, well, complex… it’s taken a little bit more time for some of those studying childhood development to catch up.

Enter the new ‘groundbreaking’ study into maternal employment. Why is it groundbreaking? Because it looks at the full picture (again, this may seem obvious – sadly, it hasn’t been.)

Over the past two decades countless studies on maternal employment have been produced, with widely varying results. Some blast mothers for going back to work within a year of giving birth, others say it’s a no-no to go back to the office until your child is three or four – and yet others seem to endorse parting ways with your newborn as soon as you leave the hospital.

But the latest study, by New York’s Columbia University School of Social Work, was published last week, and paints a very different picture.

The Observer quotes Jane Waldfogel, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, talking about the study:

This research is unique because the question we have always asked in the past has been: ‘If everything else remains constant, what is the effect of a mum going off to work?’ …But of course everything else doesn’t stay constant, so it’s an artificial way of looking at things. Family relationships, family income, the mental health of the mother all change when a mother is working and so what we did was to look at the full impact, taking all of these things into account.

In contrast to more limited studies conducted in recent years – which didn’t take trivial matters such as the mental health of a mother into account – this study has found that a mother returning to work does not automatically have a negative on a child.

The study outlines that there are disadvantages, of course, but says there are also advantages. So, weighing up the whole picture, the overall effect of a mother returning to work on her child is… neutral.

Waldfogel says that the parenting style itself is most important factor in a child’s development, not whether a mother is employed or not. “It is hugely important how sensitive you are to your child’s needs,” she explains.

The results will no doubt be welcomed by fretting mothers everywhere who guiltily leave the house in the morning, either through desire or necessity, wondering just how badly they are messing up their kids.

Sam Willoughby, founder of website Mum and Working, told The Observer:

So many things make working mothers feel awful, but the reality is, as this study shows, that going back to work is acceptable. There is a notion that mothers should spend all their time with their children but that is wrong. You need to also do things that are just for you. And a career can give you that.

And a recent revelation by actor Emma Thompson further explodes preconceptions about motherhood; Thompson’s declaration that she doesn’t – and doesn’t want to -  “have it all” has led some to despair. (After all, if Emma Thompson thinks of having it all as “a revolting concept“, what hope is there for us mere mortals?)

But perhaps the sensible findings of the Society for Research in Child Development could be applied here too: figure out what’s best for you, concentrate on listening to your child’s needs, and stop worrying about perfection.

What a refreshing concept.