In modern social relations, the problem of the motherhood of a working woman is often raised. Working outside the home distracts the mother from the child and forces her to leave her child in the care of another person for part of the day. The fact that the mother’s presence is unusually important for the proper psychological development of the child leads to the conclusion that a woman who is the mother of a small child should not be employed.
However, one should not jump to such a conclusion. There is no doubt that the child needs the constant presence of the mother while breastfeeding because through physical contact with the child, both during feeding and other forms of infant care, the child builds a basic emotional relationship with the mother, which is the starting point in the development of its sociability. But along with the child’s independence, the mother no longer has to be with it all the time. She can be away from home for a few hours a day, but only if she has found a suitable replacement for herself. After infancy, the child no longer needs to physically experience its mother, but it still needs to feel a maternal relationship towards itself. Another person is capable of this, such as a grandmother or a third party, if they are a healthy, emotionally settled person who loves the child and knows how to treat it in a natural way.
However, an adequate replacement for the mother is not easy to find. A grandmother or some other adult cousin is not always in the family, and even when they are present, they are not always capable of raising a child. It is completely wrong to think that caring for a small child can be entrusted to anyone, such as an elderly person who can no longer do anything else, except to look after a child. A child is not an object or animal to look out for. A child is a subject who actively experiences its environment, so an active attitude of the environment towards it is needed as well. And a small child needs to be dealt with in a positive way, and that can only be done by someone who can properly play the motherly role.
When there is no adult in the family who could take care of the child while the mother is working outside the home, the mother is usually forced to send the young child to a nursery. Here it is treated in a more or less official way, in a superficial way, without tenderness and a feeling of warmth. In the nursery, the child is left to itself, and this hinders its mental development and emotionally distances it from the mother. That is why placement in a nursery is not a solution to the problem of maternity of an employed woman. If there is no adequate replacement in the family for the mother who is at work, the mother of a small child should be given the opportunity to stay employed for at least the first two years of the child’s life, without leaving home much, so that she can take care of the child. Motherhood in the first two years of a child’s life should be recognized as a full-time job for which the mother would receive the same reward as if she were working in her job. This does not mean that the mother should completely abandon her real job for two years. After stopping breastfeeding, she could return to work, but with reduced working hours, so that the child would not be without her for too long.
In the preschool period, the mother’s employment outside the home cannot impair the child’s psychological development. Moreover, a woman’s employment seems to favorably affect the formation of an older child’s personality, or at least not harm it. We come to this conclusion based on the results of our examination of this problem, which shows that urban school-age children whose mothers are employed show fewer mental disorders than children whose mothers are housewives. In the countryside, our respondents were equally prone to mental disabilities, regardless of whether their mother was employed or not.
And in other countries (France, Denmark, Austria, USA) it was concluded that the employment of the mother outside the home has a positive effect on the mental development of children. Thus the English psychologist T. Moore: stated at the “First Congress of Social Psychiatry” in London in 1964: “The children of mothers who are employed outside the home do not suffer from maladaptation. On the contrary, their personality is more expressive. They are more balanced, they have more confidence in themselves.
An employed woman feels more equal with her husband than a woman whose activity is limited to housework. It has a beneficial effect on her mental state, making her calmer, happier, more cheerful and emotionally stable. In such a mood, the mother can treat her child in a more calm way, she can raise it more realistically and direct the development of its personality in a healthier direction. A woman who mostly lives closed within the four walls of her household, so she does not have the opportunity to expand her psychic horizon and experience the affirmation of her personality on a wider social level, easily becomes nervous, irritable, impatient, depressed or aggressive. This is because she feels more and more neglected with regard to her husband, to whom a much wider area of action and personal affirmation opens up. And a nervous mother inevitably shows her mood in dealing with the child as well. A woman’s sense of neglect towards her husband also damages her sex life. With such an emotional attitude, she cannot completely surrender to her husband mentally, so she remains dissatisfied in sexual contact. The constant feeling of sexual deprivation keeps a woman in a state of mental tension, and this is necessarily reflected in the actions of the mother with the child.
When not employed, the mother has more time to deal with the child, but also more opportunities to make a number of mistakes in its upbringing. Since she is the most important of all the people who influence the shaping of a child’s personality, that child is particularly sensitive to its mother’s actions. The educational mistakes made by other educators, to which the child is bound by less strong feelings, do not leave in its personality as profound damage as the educational delusions of its mother.
Other influences on the child may to some extent correct a number of parenting mistakes that the mother may make. When a child comes in contact with more educators and with different environments, it becomes more independent, gains more confidence in itself, and exercises in creating natural contact with other people. These are all processes in the child’s psyche that make it healthier and more resilient. On the contrary, when the mother is at home most of the day, she often and inadvertently ties the child to herself too much, makes it overly dependent on itself, holds it, serves it, does not give it enough opportunities to move in the company of other children, to develop its initiative and to face difficulties and risks. Such an educational procedure inhibits the emotional maturation of the child, causes conflicts of motives in it, makes it ambivalent towards its environment, brings it into conflict with the environment, and thus encourages it to unhealthy behavior.
The mother’s employment outside the home can be detrimental to the child’s psychological development if, in addition to her job, she is equally burdened by the household. Then she works all day, there is no time for rest or leisure, so it is understandable that she is constantly physically and mentally exhausted. It makes her dissatisfied, irritable, grumpy or aggressive. Then she takes this mental tension out on the children as well, so she inevitably turns into a bad educator. But its overload is usually not only due to employment but on the one hand, it is the insufficient development of institutions and services to help households, and on the other hand insufficient readiness of many husbands to cooperate with women in doing household chores.
Therefore, the problem of overwork of the employed woman and mother cannot be solved in such a way that the woman “returns to the hearth” and turns into a housewife again. The solution to this problem should be sought primarily in the re-education of men for a more constructive attitude towards women. Men need to be trained to realistically accept a woman’s equality and to put it into reality in their private lives. When the husband will no longer be “under the honor” of cooperating with his wife in the housework and child care, the household will no longer mentally exhaust the woman. Then it won’t matter how many women work in their household when they return from work. Knowing that her husband considers her equal and that he cooperates with her in the household will fill her with pleasure that will prevent the occurrence of any neurotic disorders in her behavior.