Daughters of working mothers grow up to be more successful in the workplace than their peers. They earn 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home moms and are more likely to become leaders and supervisors, according to new findings from a Harvard Business School study. Sons of working moms are more likely to grow up contributing to the childcare and household chores.
According to new research by Harvard professor Kathleen McGinn, children under 14 who were exposed to mothers who worked — either part-time or full-time — for at least a year grow up to hold more egalitarian gender views as adults.
“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 positions, and sons spend more time in the home.”
The Benefit of Motherly Guilt
You wouldn’t be a human mother if you didn’t feel guilty leaving your kids. It starts when they are babies. You look at them and see pure, innocent, needy human beings, and your motherly instincts kick in and guide you to do anything you can for them. If you grew up watching other people making sacrifices for their children, you often have this tendency too.
When I was a little girl, my parents moved to the living room and they slept there for years so I could have my own room and wouldn’t have to share with my brother and sister. There were other things they did that I interpreted as sacrificing themselves for my benefit. They only wanted the best for me, but I grew up feeling guilty and responsible for their happiness. Becoming a mother was my biggest passion and purpose for years, and as soon as I had children, I was on it big time! Supported by the belief that your kids are more important than you, I invested all my time and energy on motherhood and anything I did other than parenting made me feel guilty, at least at the beginning. The more I became aware and the more I dove into self-awareness and the process of personal growth, the more I realized that guilt has been a great teacher for me.
Guilt is better than shame because guilt is directed towards something you do while shame is directed towards who you are. I learned way back when my kids were young to call them on an action they took or a decision they made but not to say ?You are irresponsible? or ?you are fearful.?
The main benefit of guilt is that it can be constructive, and shame cannot, and that it opens the way to improving our awareness, understanding, and perspective on emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.
The Cost of Motherly Guilt
In her book ?Guilt is the teacher, Love is the lesson? Joan Borysenko, PhD, talks about twenty-one expressions of unhealthy guilt such as: being a compulsive helper, overcommitting, never having time for one’s self, worrying about being selfish, never saying NO, not accepting help, and more. I think I was guilty at one point or another in my life (interesting that I chose the word ?guilty?) in expressing all types of guilt mentioned in Joan’s book.
Guilt is one of the greatest emotions working mothers experience. The biggest cost is that it drains your energy and prevents you from feeling good and being happy. The result is that our kids, who are so important to us, grow up watching us controlled by negative emotions, and it makes them feel guilty that we are not happier.
I believe that there are ways to grow and develop in more empowering ways than holding onto guilt. Long-term, the cost is of guilt is much greater than the benefit.
So what do we do to feel less guilty?
Even a small part of feeling guilty might be healthy and help us grow, but the bigger part of it drains us and keeps us stuck in negativity.
The key to shifting guilt to a more positive emotion is by changing our inner monologue. If we go back to McGinn’s research we realize that there are benefits, even for our kids, when we focus on our career and work outside of the home. And there is something else very important: a woman who feels purposeful and fulfilled and allows herself to be happy (with no guilt!) teaches her kids a very important message. She teaches her kids that they are responsible for their own happiness and that self-love, self-care, and living on purpose are the keys to living a happy and balanced life. Lead by example.
Your kids will not blame you for focusing on your career if they see in front of them a happy and fulfilled mom who does not feel guilty. Energy attracts like energy. When you let go of guilt and choose positive emotions, your kids will feel it.
What does your inner monologue sound like when you feel guilty?
How can you change it to help you stop the guilt and feel good about who you are?
Rest easy. The positive impact of your healthy self-image about your career will, as research shows, benefit your kids.