The effects of maternal employment on family interaction



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Texas Tech University


The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of maternal employment on family interaction. Forty mother-fatherchild triads, 20 with employed mothers and 20 with nonemployed mothers, participated in this investigation. In-home observations, summary ratings based on those observations, and questionnaires were used to examine family interaction expressed through speaking, caretaking, quiet play, active play, negative affect and positive affect behaviors.

Results indicated that mothers verbalized to children more than fathers. Mothers participated more in caretaking and quiet play while fathers participated more in active play. Maternal employment did not alter family interaction patterns for caretaking, quiet play or active play. There were no differences between families with employed and nonemployed mothers for positive or negative affect. Additional analyses indicated that mothers provided more positive affect to children than fathers. Fathers demonstrated more negative affect to the child, however, mothers reported assuming more responsibility for punishing the child. Employed mothers and their husbands had more favorable attitudes toward dual roles for women than nonemployed mothers and their husbands. There was more negative affect toward children in families where there was incongruence between the parents' attitudes toward dual roles for women and the mother's employed or nonemployed status. In the employed category, nontraditional women were more verbal to their children than nontraditional men, however, traditional men were more verbal than traditional women.

The findings indicate that differences observed between mothers and fathers in families with nonemployed mothers also exist in families with employed mothers. Maternal employment, alone, appears to have a minimal influence in altering family interaction patterns.



Mothers -- Employment, Family, Parent and child, Children of working mothers