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Harvard Research Finds Working Mothers Raise Successful Daughters And Empathetic Sons

Harvard Research Finds Working Mothers Raise Successful Daughters And Empathetic Sons

There are many posts on the Internet which urge working moms to feel less guilty about how they are raising their kids — they seem to be doing better than some may think. This has been confirmed by a Harvard study which involved 50,000 children of career women from 25 countries. Researchers found that there were considerable benefits for kids raised by working mothers. The study included women who were working part-time in addition to full-time professionals.

The study found that these children were more accepting of non-traditional gender-role models in the home setting. Later, this contributed to daughters being more successful in the workplace in supervisory roles and sons who were more empathetic. Here are six reasons why these sons and daughters are more successful at work and at home.

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1. Sons understand how gender roles have evolved

Both sons and daughters learn that a working mother is perfectly normal and that the woman’s role is not necessarily that of a housewife. In fact, according to the Office of National Statistics in the UK, the number of stay-at-home moms has decreased by more than 33 per cent in the last twenty years. Sons begin to understand that they too have a role to play in the running of the household. Later in life, they contribute more in childcare and in managing the home because of this early life lesson. In fact, the Harvard study shows that these men are spending twice the amount of time on childcare — 16 hours a week compared to the 8.5-hour norm.

2. Sons are likely to be more empathetic

Sons learn from an early age to pitch in and help out with household chores when their mother is away from the home. This makes them more sensitive to the needs of others. They will never wonder what stay-at-home mothers do all day. They are more likely to grow up being empathetic and caring, becoming better partners and parents themselves. There is no need to separate masculine from feminine qualities. A parent will teach their sons that there are only human qualities. The family with a working mom finds it easier to instil empathy in their boys.

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3. Sons are more likely to marry a working mother

Other studies show that sons brought up by working mothering are more likely to have wives who work. The reason behind this is that the sons have a less traditional view of mothering because they grew up in a home where working and mothering was seamless. They are much more likely to be supportive and helpful when their own wives work.

4. Daughters have a positive role model to follow

Instead of worrying obsessively about how much actual time they spend with their daughters, working moms should reflect on how they are setting a positive example of gender equality and success. Daughters are inspired by the example and have no qualms about their own careers when they marry.

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5. Daughters have more supervisory roles

The Harvard study found that daughters of working mothers were more likely to be successful and had more supervisory roles than those women brought up by stay-at-home moms. Twenty-five per cent of daughters of stay-at-home moms were in supervisory roles compared to 33 per cent of daughters of working mothers. These women were much more confident in holding down dual roles than their colleagues. The reason is that they had an excellent example to follow from an early age.

6. Daughters are earning more

The daughters of working mothers earn up to 23 per cent more (in the USA) than their counterparts and are better placed to gain more senior positions. That makes a difference of $7,000 annually in the USA. The reason is that these women are motivated from an early age to follow their own career choices, just like their own mothers. This is a crucial factor in their success.They were also taught to be independent and autonomous from an early age, as their mothers never had the time to indulge in helicopter parenting.

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Long live women’s right to choose when it comes to working or staying at home. If they choose the former, they should relax and know that that their choice will have a beneficial impact on their sons and daughters. It is high time to change the stereotypes and recognize quality parenting is much more complex than many people imagine.

Featured photo credit: Dad helping Ricky while Sara looks on/Joshua Blount via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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