A new study from Harvard found that working mothers benefit daughters. The massive study, looking at 24 countries from around the world, found "the daughters of working mothers were paid around 4 percent more than their peers, even adjusting for their greater levels of education and prevailing social attitudes, and were much more likely to have been promoted into managerial positions", reports The Guardian. This is good news for working mothers, and shows that some of the fears about working mothers are really, really misplaced.
Watching their mothers succeed in the workplace sets a framework for daughters to follow, and skills mothers develop are, perhaps unknowingly, passed down. As the study says "these findings suggest that in addition to transmitting gender attitudes across generations, mothers’ employment teaches daughters a set of skills that enable greater participation in the workforce and in leadership positions.” And it wasn't just good news for the daughters.
Having a working mother as a role model also had a positive impact on sons. The study found "that sons raised by an employed mother are more involved at home as adults, spending more time caring for family members than men whose mothers stayed home full-time". It probably shouldn't surprise us that seeing a more balanced distribution of labor as a child leads to having more balanced distributions of labor in your adult relationships. But it's not just with jobs and housework— science says there are lots of ways our parents affect our adult relationships.
Here's a look at four ways your parents may be shaping your relationship, without you even realizing:
1. How You Communicate
One study, lead by Barbara Oudekerk of University of Virginia, looked at 184 teens and found that interactions with parents would "cascade" into adult relationships, according to Reuters Health. This was especially true with controlling parents who regularly used guilt or distancing, as it seemed to discourage communication even in future relationships. Ouderk told Reuters "...we found that the more psychological control youth experienced from parents, the less likely they were to express their own opinions, give reasons why they felt that way, and do so in a warm, collaborative way".
2. How Safe Your Sex Is
Turns out, the amount your dad was around as a child could have an impact on how likely you are to pull that crunched up condom out of the side pocked of your handbag, wipe off the handbag debris, and actually use it (just me?). A University of Florida survey of 748 college students found that those with active and present fathers as children had safer sex as adults.
3. What Your Aspirations Are
It's not just how mothers treat traditional gender roles, what your father does is important too. A study in Psychological Science looked 326 children and found that when dads didn't just talk the equality talk, but walked the walk by participating in household chores, they had daughters that wanted higher paying careers. Thinking big for yourself can't just be about your job, it has to affect how you view yourself in relationships too.
4. The Quality of Your Relationship
Matt Johnson of the University of Alberta looked at nearly 3,000 participants through three different stages in their lives and "found that positive adolescent-parent relationships led to higher quality intimate relationships as adults. Teenagers who experienced rocky relationships with their parents had more romantic problems later in life.", according to Huffington Post.
Here's the thing though: none of these are set in stone. You can't help your parents relationship, and you were only partly responsible for your relationship with them. My parents split up before I was born, but it doesn't mean I'm doomed. It just means I need to be aware that I had a peculiar upbringing and see how that informs my adult relationships. As Johnson tells Huffington Post "understanding your contribution to the relationship with your parents would be important to recognizing any tendency to replicate behavior—positive or negative—in an intimate relationship," So if you and a tough upbringing or relationship with your parents, don't panic, just keep your eyes open and try to make constructive, aware choices. Oh, and wear a condom!
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