If you’re anything like me, you don’t get to spend anywhere near enough time with your kids and when you are with them, it seems like you’re always just shuttling them to and from piano lessons, dance classes, and so on — anything but spending quality time together. I know the rare occasions when I’ve been off from work and the kids aren’t in school, we have a wonderful time together going for a picnic or visiting a museum or just sitting and watching the waves together. It sure seems like I spend less time with my kids than my parents spent with me — but is that really the case?
It turns out that parents today spend a lot more time with their kids than did parents even just 15 years ago. According to a new study, parents are spending as much as twice as much time with their kids than in the past. Two economists at the University of California, San Diego, examined the data from a dozen surveys taken between 1965 and 2007 to come up with the surprising results.
Prior to 1995, the average mother spent about 12 hours per week with her kids. Now that number has jumped to over 21 hours for college-educated women and almost 16 hours for women with less education (an argument for or against college, depending on how your kids are behaving at the moment.) Men, too, have increased their time with the kids, with college-educated men doubling the amount of time they spend with kids. It’s still not as much as women, however; at less than 10 hours per week, such men spend half as much time with the kids as do their female counterparts.
Still, it will likely never seem like enough. “It’s a function of people working so hard,” says Dr. Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, “and they are worried they’re shortchanging their children. I’ve never found a group of parents who believe they are spending enough time with their kids.”
In an interesting side note, however, kids apparently don’t see the same problem — a study published in 2000 asked kids what their one wish for their parents was and it turns out it’s not more time together. Instead, “kids were more likely to wish that their parents were less tired and less stressed,” said Dr. Galinsky. I guess those kids really have us pegged.