As if the recent study finding that the children of working mothers are more likely to be obese was not enough… a new study by Dr. Melinda Morrill, a N.C. State economics professor, finds that the children of working mothers suffer from adverse health effects. According to a Time.com article, the study, which is soon to be published in the Journal of Health Economics, finds that the children of working mothers are twice as likely to have been hospitalized, had an asthma attack or an injury or ingested something poisonous in the last year than kids whose moms stayed home.
As mothers, whether working inside or outside the home, we do the best that we can for our children. I completely support women who want/have to work outside the home, and I am sure that there are some benefits that their children enjoy that the children of at-home mothers do not. That said, I am embarassed to admit that I did not take as good care of my children’s health when I was working as I do now. I remember many a late night and morning when I discovered that one of my children had a fever. Too often, that discovery resulted in a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach – this was NOT a good time for my child to be sick. Since I was the one the kids always came to with their illnesses, I would inform my husband, and sweetly ask him if he could stay home with the sick child. Usually, the conversation would quickly deteriorate into what looked like a legal argument as each of us presented the other with all the reasons why we could not POSSIBLY stay home that day… “I have a meeting that can NOT missed; I have to make this very important deadline; I stayed home last time; My boss will not understand; etc, etc.” We would do this dance until either one of us caved in, or we arrived at a compromise. The compromises were less than desirable, and required the strategic planning of an army commander. The daycare drop off and pick up time had to be carefully coordinated while taking into consideration the timing of that all-important meeting, the length of time that a fever suppressant would keep the fever at bay, and the fact that if a fever were detected at the daycare, we could not bring the child back until at least 48 hours after the fever passed. Was I happy to have to send a sick child into daycare? No – I was mortified and guilt ridden. Did I feel good about exposing other children to my sick child? Absolutely not. But having no family in the area, and no non-working friends nearby, it felt like we had no choice. I know that I am not alone in having to make these kind of decisions regarding our children. It is my hope that one day our society will recognize the importance of family, and working parents will be able to take care of their sick children without fearing that they are jeopardizing their jobs.