In a piece titled, Surprisingly, Family Time Has Grown, Tara Parker-Pope writes:
Working parents perpetually agonize that they don’t see enough of their children. But a surprising new study finds that mothers and fathers alike are doing a better job than they think, spending far more time with their families than did parents of earlier generations.
Pope pulls some stats from the study:
Before 1995, mothers spent an average of about 12 hours a week attending to the needs of their children. By 2007, that number had risen to 21.2 hours a week for college-educated women and 15.9 hours for those with less education.
Although mothers still do most of the parenting, fathers also registered striking gains: to 9.6 hours a week for college-educated men, more than double the pre-1995 rate of 4.5 hours; and to 6.8 hours for other men, up from 3.7, according to an additional analysis by Betsey Stevenson and Dan Sacks, economists at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
And then we are reassured:
Family researchers say the news should offer relief to guilt-stricken working parents.
Oh, really? I am supposed to feel better about my time with my kids because of this research? Maybe I am over-reacting and this is just an unfortunate turn of a phrase. Yet, Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute says:
“Parents are feeling like they don’t have enough time with their children,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York, which conducts research on the work force. “It’s a function of people working so hard, 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.”
Maybe these ARE throw away lines, or the piece was just a writing assignment, or I am reading too much into it. But when I read excerpts from this piece to my daughter this morning she said, “21 hours a week! That’s not a lot of time.”
Read Surprisingly, Family Time Has Grown. Or, better yet, do what you were going to do anyway – go spend the rest of the day with your kids.