Family Time;Quality Over Quantity

The time we spend with our children is valuable and to be cherished as they grow to adulthood and start their own households. Busy parents often feel guilty that they are not spending enough time with their children. So what do all of the researchers and psychologists say about the subject? First, a fact that surprised me was that since the mid-1970s parents have been spending more time with their children. The time fathers spend has tripled and mother’s are now on average spending 57% more time with their children. Has this increased academic success and emotional well-being? The answer found by Melissa Milkie the lead researcher at the University of Toronto was no. Ms. Milkie was quick to say that this is not to be construed to mean time with children is not valuable but what she determined is that quality matters more than quantity. What the University’s research discovered while monitoring 1,605 children was that positive outcomes in children’s success were more often linked to the mother’s level of education, household income and family structure. Another point this research highlighted is that parents today are driven to raise high-achieving children and this overlooks the importance of one on one interaction with your child. Quality time and not busy time lets a child know they matter and it gives them confidence to make better life choices and develops self-esteem.

Here are some suggestions by child psychologists for quality time with children:

Listen to Music – Listening to music as a family and even just talking about music or a particular song creates bonds especially in the teen years, when communication can be strained.

Talk and Drive – Riding in the car creates captive audiences, so parents are encouraged to take advantage of this time. One good conversation starter suggested is to talk about a bad and good event in your day. This promotes the sharing of feelings and when parents participate they model how to cope with problems as they occur.

Homework – Helping your child with their homework but not in excess is a good way to let your child know you are interested in what they are reading and learning about. Do avoid arguments and stay positive. Encourage your child to talk about school and their classmates, as this helps you gauge how your child is feeling about the overall environment there.

Family Vacations – This is a great way to build bonds and memories that last a lifetime. Being in a new setting creates camaraderie because everyone is experiencing something new together. If possible give your child the chance to mentor and help you learn a new skill whether it is body boarding or a language.

Social Media – The journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking actually found that adolescents who connect with their parents via social media felt closer to their parents. This connection ranged from just simple “likes” to more frequent interactions.

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