Why do Americans score so poorly in the time spent on their children?

Parenting time is increasingly scarce in today’s world. With global competition fueling longer working hours and dual career families, it becomes very difficult to find the time to spend with our children. Parenting time (as the experts suggest) should be quality time and this means more than just sitting in front of a TV or a movie with our children. It means interacting with them in a meaningful way.

The definition of a parent is someone who begets or gives birth to a child or someone who is the guardian of a child and looks out for their best interests. Part of a child’s best interests comes from regular interaction with a parent, teacher or role model. Parents teach children by example the lessons they need to be successful in life. Much of this takes place vicariously but some takes place in the form of stories, lessons, lectures, sayings, family traditions and family interaction. Some recent studies have cast doubts on the quality of life for children being raised in the U.S. and Great Britain. A UNICEF study of 21 of the most highly developed countries in the world rated the quality of life for children in the U.S as next to last. Only Great Britain scored worse. How is it that in the most powerful and most economically developed nation in the world, children can not find a good place to grow up? Are we all so busy that we have no time for our children? Is work and growing an economy only done at the expense of the young?

The report noted: “Where Britain and America really score badly, however, is in the categories of relationships and risky behavior. British and American children apparently spend less time (and eat fewer meals) with their parents, compared with the other countries, and seem to be somewhat less happy with their friends and in school (The Economist, Feb 14th 2007). The evidence suggests then that time is the most critical variable. However, how can we have time for our kids, when we are too busy earning money to spend on them? It is a bit of a paradox. American children probably have more toys than any children in the world. The UNICEF study suggests it is not toys they want but time.

Do you spend time with you children each day? Do you make sure you have quality time with your children and meaningful interaction? Are you a role model for your children or do you teach them to “do as I say and not as I do?” Do you think your children will grow up and want to be the same kind of parent you were for them? If not, why not?

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