To all the mamas and papas out there who feel guilty for being at work while their kids are at home, you need fret no more; according to a lengthy new study, ’tis far better to go for quality of time spent together over quantity, when it comes to your nippers. Reassuring those mothers and fathers who beat themselves up over the fact that they’re not present 24/7 to help nurture their child’s development, and keep them entertained, turns out, it actually won’t affect them negatively. What will affect them, however, is time spent with parents who are stressed out, sleep deprived and anxious. So when you do make time for your tots, make sure it’s well spent.
According to The Washington Post who are reporting on this research, the amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has almost no effect on how your kids will turn out, and as for adolescents, the effects are minimal. This reassuring news comes via the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time to be published in April in the Journal of Marriage and Family, among which children’s academic ability, behavior and emotional well-being are examined.
Commenting on their findings, lead author and sociologist Melissa Milkie says “I could literally show you 20 charts, and 19 of them would show no relationship between the amount of parents’ time and children’s outcomes. . . . Nada. Zippo.” So while your kids might claim to miss you when you’re putting in long hours at the office, and they probably do, they’ll be just fine provided you make some time for them when you can. It won’t hamper their development into adulthood. A little time away from your kids does not a bad parent make.
Milkie continues, “In an ideal world, this study would alleviate parents’ guilt about the amount of time they spend and show instead what’s really important for kids.”
“If we’re really wanting to think about the bigger picture and ask, how would we support kids, our study suggests through social resources that help the parents in terms of supporting their mental health and socio-economic status… The sheer amount of time that we’ve been so focused on them doesn’t do much.”
Food for thought, for sure. So how will you spend time with your kids over Easter?
Photo Credit: Getty’s Lean In Collection