Yet another study confirms what moms everywhere already know – that we can’t have it all. Of course, there’s that nagging questions most moms face at some point: stay at home with the kids or pursue a career? For some, they have no choice but to work for financial reasons. Others need it for their sanity. No matter which path you choose, there are bound to be challenges.
New research presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association highlights just that. The study finds that women who stay at home raising children are more likely than working mothers to have symptoms of depression. But before you working moms out there pump your fists in triumph, know that you’re not in the clear. In fact, the study found that working women with a “supermom” complex – you know, the ones who think they should have a fulfilling career and a fulfilling family life — are setting themselves up for disappointment.
“Holding a job is likely to improve your overall mental health and well-being, which is ultimately a good thing for yourself and your family,” says lead researcher Katrina Leupp, who analyzed data from 1,600 married women at age 20 and then again at age 40. But she tells the Los Angeles Times that it’s important to “accept that balancing work and family is difficult, rather than feeling guilty or unsuccessful if you can’t devote as much time as you would like to your job or your family.”
Those who were all about combining motherhood with career had a greater risk of depression later in life than those who thought women should stay at home to raise kids, reports the Los Angeles Times. The take-home message is to set realistic expectations. For example, there’s no such thing as “supermom” – something has to give when you’re working full-time outside the home. At the same time, giving up a career to stay at home raising children can certainly leave a void for some women, regardless of the obvious gains.
All of this seems pretty obvious, though it never hurts to have a formal study that confirms the reality of motherhood. It also makes the whole “Mommy Wars” notion seem somewhat outdated, which is a good thing.