Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 987–999 | Cite as

The Relation Between Mothers’ Attitudes Toward Maternal Employment and Social Competence of 36-Month-Olds: The Roles of Maternal Psychological Well-Being and Sensitivity

  • Young Eun ChangEmail author
Original Paper


The relation of mothers’ attitudes on the effects of maternal employment on children, psychological well-being, sensitivity of the mother, and children’s socioemotional development were examined in mothers who worked full time (consistently) and mothers who were unemployed during their children’s early years of growth from 6 months of age. Longitudinal observations of 1,213 mothers and children from age 1 to 36 months from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care were analyzed using structural equation models. Mothers and children benefited when maternal attitudes were consistent with the mothers’ actual employment status. Among consistently employed mothers, those with positive attitudes about employment had better psychological well-being. When mothers who were unemployed, they believed that maternal employment would have positive consequences for their children’s development, they preferred working outside home and they were more likely to show a low level of psychological well-being and poor quality of mother-child relation. Additionally, maternal well-being mediated the relation between a mother’s attitudes and a child’s social competence. For both groups, better psychological well-being of mothers was positively related to better child’s socioemotional outcome. Maternal sensitivity, however, did not mediate the relation between maternal attitudes and child’s social outcomes. The findings shed light on the need for a sensitive measure of characterizing mothers who work versus those who stay at home in order to better understand the effects on a child’s development.


Maternal employment Attitudes Psychological well-being Sensitivity Social competence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family WelfareChung-Ang UniversitySeoulKorea

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