Creative Child

Are You Spending Enough Time With Your Child? Research Seems to Suggest It’s Time to Stop Feeling Guilty.

by Deborah Song

If you’re feeling that you aren’t spending enough time with your child, rest assured, your concerns are shared by most parents of this generation. Even though we are spending on average an hour more per day and two hour more per weekend with our kids than previous generation, the mommy guilt persists in our culture with a vengeance.

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With parents all around us, shuffling our kids and jam packing one more activity into our already stuffed, exhausted schedules, we seem to find it harder than ever to tell our kids that we can’t draw with them or play a game with them, when we’re in the throes of budgeting our finances, folding laundry, or even having a conversation with our spouses.

But should we feel guilty because we’re not giving as much time to our children as the Joneses? Is the pervasive view in today’s intense-parenting culture that more time is better warranted? According to a study conducted by the University of Maryland, the answer is a surprising and resounding no.

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There is scant evidence showing that greater amounts of child focused time or greater amounts of time available to children is better for children‘s socio-emotional, health, or academic outcomes. What the study did find, was that social class, as measured by mother‘s education and family income, has a stronger relationship with children‘s well-being. And if there is a time our kids need us, it is during their teenage years. This seems to keep them out of trouble. Furthermore, juicier findings revealed that while spending more time with our kids has no scientific proof that it improves their success in life, being exposed to stressed parents does seem to have a negative impact.

If these results seem surprising, as they were to me, it’s perhaps because today’s mothers spend more time interacting with their children than mothers did in the 1960s, when mothers in general worked dramatically less. Today’s employed mothers appear to protect time with children at the expense of their own leisure time and housework. We’re doing more than we ever did, perhaps to our detriment.

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