According to arecent study from the University of London's Centre for Longitudinal Studies, children whose mothers work during their early years do as well at school as those with stay-at-home moms. The analysis looked at six studies covering 40,000 children over the last 40 years and found no link between mothers who continued working and children achieving less at school or misbehaving.

"There has traditionally been a concern that the employment of mothers comes at the expense of child development," said the study's author, Heather Joshi, a professor of economic and developmental demography at University of London's Institute of Education. "But as the percentage of mothers in work has gone up, any impact on children has diminished."

Well, there you have it. Moms, park your guilt at the office door.

On the one hand, I'm glad to know on some vague level that I shouldn't worry about my kids behaving badly because I work full time. But whenever discussions about working moms come up, I always think: What about men? Why does no one seem to be having this discussion about dads and their work?

Well, it turns out The Boston College Center for Work & Family is and has been for a while. It released a report recently, The New Dad: A Work (and Life) in Progress, which summarizes its prior studies on the changing role of fathers and workplace responses to fatherhood.

Among its recommendations for employers is that they acknowledge that gender-neutral policies aren't enough. "While organizational policies are designed to be gender neutral, organizational cultures are not. There are still deeply embedded assumptions that when men become fathers, nothing will change on the work front," write the authors.

Moreover, they say, organizations that seek to retain and advance women must not marginalize the role men play in that process. Engaging men in these work-life conversations, they say, is critical to the success of all employees. I happen to agree. All employees, regardless of gender or marital status, need a voice in this work-life balance dialogue.

This month's cover story, on page 22, explores the idea that work-life balance and flexibility are different for every employee - and every organization. Dow Chemical's flexible style - giving employees ownership of their work schedules on a case-by-case basis within a structure of defined boundaries and accountabilities - seems like a refreshing approach. Let me know if you agree.

Send letters, queries and story ideas to Managing Editor Andrea Davis at andrea.davis@sourcemedia.com.

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