Parent-Child Time Is Going Up

Article excerpt

Parents are spending more time with their children now than they did 20 years ago, despite the disintegrating nuclear family and the influx of mothers into the work force, says a University of Michigan study released yesterday.

The study, conducted by sociologist John F. Sandberg and researcher Sandra L. Hofferth, examined how much time 2,125 children ages 3 through 12 spent with their parents and compared the findings with those from a similar study in 1981.

The study looked at children from two-parent homes with the father working, two-parent homes with both parents working, and single-parent homes. It included any time a child and parent spent in each other's presence as child-parent time.

"It's an encouraging sign because research shows it's not the quality of time that parents spend with their kids, but the quantity of time that affects them," said Heather Cirmo of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based organization specializing in family issues. "The parents' being there, just having a presence, is very important to child development."

The study found that in two-parent homes, the amount of time parents spend with their children has increased significantly. Children in two-parent families spent about 31 hours a week with their mothers in 1997, compared with about 25 hours in 1981. The time spent with fathers increased from 19 to 23 hours a week.

Mothers in single-parent homes, on the other hand, spent 21 hours a week with their children in 1997 - the same amount as in 1981, and one-third less than mothers in two-parent homes. …