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Parents Today Spend Twice as Much Time With Their Kids Than Parents 50 Years Ago

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Who among us hasn't heard one of these old refrains? Parents today work too much and don't see their kids enough. Or, working moms shouldn't try to raise families; you have to pick one or the other. I'll never forget the day an otherwise kind, well-meaning older aunt said to me that she just couldnt understand women "these days" who have kids and then go right back to work.

"Why do they even have kids in the first place?" she asked.

I was too shocked (and too exhausted) to come up with a good answer. After all, she was clearly forgetting that I was a mom of two who was about to head back to work full-time after my three-month, mostly unpaid maternity leave. (Yes, she made that comment a year and a half ago, and yes, I'm still annoyed by it.)

That's part of why whenever we see or hear evidence that moms today aren't doing too bad of a job, we pause and heave a major sigh of relief. And moms (and dads), today we have a gem for you: While we're often led to believe that parents today spend far less time with their children — usually thanks to demanding jobs, elder caregiving responsibilities, and a variety of other unique family situations — than parents of yesteryear, the reality is that it just may not be true.

Parents Today See Their Kids More

On average, according to a report published by the *The Economist that analyzed 11 wealthy countries including the U.S., Italy, Britain, and Germany, moms today spend 104 minutes — or about an hour and 45 minutes each day — with their kids. Dads today spend 59 minutes, or just under an hour, caring for their children each day. Compare that to 1965, when the average mother spent 54 minutes a day caring for her child and the average dad spent just 16 minutes a day. Modern moms and dads: Pat yourself on the back!

The analysis was done by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, who asked 68,532 mothers and 53,739 fathers to keep a journal of their daily activities. They found that between 1965 and 2012, all but one of 11 Western nations showed an increase in the amount of time both parents spent with their children. (The exception, interestingly, was France.)

Moms, especially working moms: It's time to let go of the guilt. Spending quality family time — with either parent, or with both together — helps children grow up as happy, well-adjusted, and contributing members of society. The news that it's actually double what it used to be is a welcome, refreshing antidote to our inner dialogue telling us we don't see our kids enough or that we're failing as parents.

Maybe, just maybe, we're doing something right after all.

h/t: The Economist

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