Maternal Employment, Nonparental Care, Mother-Child Interactions, and Child Outcomes During Preschool Years


Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL 60115 (


This study examines the relationships between maternal employment, nonparental care, mother-child interactions, and preschoolers’ outcomes. Data from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (N= 1,248) show that maternal employment during the previous year, especially full-time employment, was related to care by nonrelatives, longer hours in school settings, fewer positive mother-child interactions, and less reading with parents at ages 2 and 4. Controlling for these mediators, maternal employment was related to children’s lower hyperactivity, more prosocial behavior, and less anxiety at age 4, although little relationship was found at age 2. The results indicate that preschoolers may benefit from maternal employment, but benefits may be offset by long hours of nonparental care and fewer positive mother-child interactions.