Relax, Parents - You're Spending More Time With Your Kids Than You Think

Filed under: Childcare, Research Reveals: Babies, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

Even the First Family makes time for play. Credit: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Finally, a study that doesn't send parents into a spiral of guilt, shame and despair: Research findings show that the amount of time parents spend with their children is up "dramatically" since the mid-1990s, The New York Times reports.

The study analyzes surveys of how Americans say they use their time, with data collected at different periods from 1965 to 2007, The Times reports. The survey tracks specific activities in which parents are directly involved in the child's care, but not time spent "around" their children, such as at the dinner table.

By 2007, college-educated women were spending 21.2 hours a week caring for their children, while women with less education were spending 15.9 hours caring for their kids. This is up from the average 12 hours a week women spent with their kids each week before 1995, The Times reports.

There also is a rise in the amount of time fathers spend with their kids. College-educated men are spending 9.6 hours a week with their kids, and other men are spending 6.8 hours with their children. Before 1995, the rate for college-educated dads was 4.5 hours, and 3.7 hours for other men.

The extra family time is coming from women spending less time cooking and cleaning their homes, and men spending fewer hours at work, The Times reports.

Dr. Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who conducted additional analysis, says the data might be related to a rise in what she calls the "hedonic marriage," in which couples share home and work responsibilities so they can spend more time together, The Times reports. The hedonic marriage is a departure from the "specialized" roles couples assumed in earlier generations, which tended to keep them apart.

Dr. Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York, says that while working parents often feel guilty for not spending more time at home, children often often want their parents to just relax. In her 2000 study, "Ask the Children," she asked more than 1,000 children about their "one wish" for their parents, The Times reports.

"Kids were more likely to wish that their parents were less tired and less stressed," Galinsky says.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.