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Different roles of mothers benefit children in different ways, studies show
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Both stay-at-home mothers and working mothers can be of benefit to children, teaching different things and helping in different aspects of their lives. - photo by Mandy Morgan
As long as women continue to have children, they will be making the choice to stay home with their kids or to work outside of the home.

What parents don't need in helping them make that choice is the polarizing one-sided manner that information addressing the pros and cons of either choice is often presented in the media, Kay Hymowitz wrote Wednesday on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies.

"Those American women who are fortunate enough to have choices in the messy work/life struggle need a clear-eyed grasp of the inevitable tradeoffs, not advocacy," Hymowitz wrote. "For most of them, the answer to whether and when to work is not yes or no, but 'it depends.

Adding to the information bank that parents can consider is a new study released this week that found children whose mothers work outside the home, even briefly, will have long-term benefits to their own work experience. Specifically, women whose mothers worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves and hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, according to Forbes.

Data for the study was taken from a survey called "Family and Changing Gender Roles" for the years 2002 and 2012, from the International Social Survey Programme. Researchers were looking at whether the mother had ever worked between their child's birth and age 14.

"It didn't matter to us if she worked for a few months one year, or worked 60 hours per week during your whole childhood," said Kathleen McGinn, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and one of the study's researchers.

"We weren't interested in whether your mom was an intense professional, but rather whether you had a role model who showed you that women work both inside and outside the home. We wanted to see how that played out."

Another study for parents to consider was conducted in Norway in May 2013 that found although young children and babies do benefit from constant interaction with their parents, older children often benefit even more, both emotionally and educationally.

The study looked at the "Cash for Care" program that includes a cash payment for stay-at-home parents with children below age 3, and found that the older children of families in the programs did better in school grade point averages raised by .02 in the 10th grade for older siblings.

"The results suggest that even older students in middle or elementary school could use guidance from their parents," said Eric Bettinger, an associate professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, and one of the study's researchers.

"For years, we have known that parental presence is extraordinarily important in the very early childhood years. What we're finding is that parents continue to be important much further along in a child's life than we had previously thought," Bettinger said.

Bettinger believes that the benefits could actually be greater for children in the U.S., since Norway offers childcare and parental leave for working parents. The added benefit of having a parent at home is probably smaller in Norway than it would be in the U.S., he told the Graduate School of Stanford Business in the study.