Father spending time with son

Modern parents spend more time with kids

Time changes all things, just ask a caterpillar. Yes, the relentless hands of time unpick and reweave the tapestry of life with relentless zeal, and their handiwork has been revealed yet again in a new study comparing parenting of today with parenting habits of 50 years ago.

The study involved data from the Multinational Time Use Study which focused on parents between the ages of 18 and 65 who were living with at least one child under the age of 13. The study went from 1965 to 2012 and involved 122,271 parents from Canada, the UK, the US, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Slovenia. All parents kept a diary of their daily activities. To compare parenting from the 1960s to parenting today, the researchers randomly chose one day from each time period.

For the study, time spent with children or childcare activities included preparing meals, bathing, changing nappies and clothes, putting them to bed, getting up in the night, reading with them, playing with them and surpervising or helping with homework.

In 1965 mothers spent a daily average of 54 minutes on childcare activities whereas in 2012 mothers averaged 104 minutes per day.

The results showed that in 1965 mothers spent a daily average of 54 minutes on childcare activities whereas in 2012 mothers averaged 104 minutes per day. Fathers also increased going from 16 minutes per day in 1965 to 59 minutes a day in 2012.

In addition, the researchers found a link between education and time spent with kids. University-educated mothers spent an average 123 minutes a day with children compared to 94 minutes by less educated mothers. Similarly, university-educated fathers spent about 74 minutes per day with their children compared to 50 minutes by fathers who did not go to university.

Time spent with children is critical to their cognitive development and perhaps this is fuelling the modern parent’s behaviour. Whatever the driver of the change, the further we get away from children being “seen and not heard” by parents the better for everyone.

Source: Journal of Marriage and Family

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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