Are you confused? A recent study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family (Volume 77, Issue 2) that focuses on whether you are an intensive or distant parent stated that there is not a correlation with either type of parent and positive outcomes for children (Wolfers, New York Times, April 1, 2015). Or if you follow Ariel Kalil, University of Chicago’s developmental psychologist, you know that high-quality studies of parenting focuses on how often you read to your children, play with them or do homework, over a long period of time is best.
The good news is that parents are spending more time with their children than parents in the past, father’s time has tripled since 1965 (KJ Dell’Antonia, New York Times, March 31, 2015). Mother’s time with their children has increased as well, however, it does not help to alleviate the quilt they feel.
My opinion is that quality time is most important. Quality time, not special events and “make-up” treats. Children need your presence, not presents. Time to have dinner together, reading at bed time, singing and dancing while cooking dinner together, chats on the way to school, listening on the way home are examples of quality time. Watching TV together maybe educational, but it is not considered quality time.
I don’t remember my parents reading to me, I think my older siblings did. I do remember that when I was in elementary school I would walk to and from the bus stop from our house. When I returned in the late afternoon, I would come in the back door and shout, “Mom”. She would answer my call from wherever she was, “I’m here”. I didn’t need her, I just liked that she was there. Sometimes she would be hurrying back from an afternoon coffee with a neighbor to get into the house before I arrived. She knew it was important to be there.
It’s the little daily, consistent things that have meaning and lasting effects. It is also the traditions your family participates in, like walking to a weekly religious gathering, getting bagels on Saturdays, watching for animals on the ride to grandparent’s house, apple picking, snuggling under a blanket while reading books together, or like me, trying to roll my dad off of the couch with my siblings on Sunday after our midday meal.