Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Parental "Time-bind"

Recently, I read a statement about parents who are in a “time-bind,” trying to balance their busy work schedules and children:

“Angela and Tom represent a growing number of American parents who try to pencil children into busy schedules, much like a business appointment. They love their children, but they also love and need their work, for personal and financial reasons” (Berk, L., 2001, Awakening Children’s Minds, p. 6).

busy mother
I agree that there are many things competing for our time and attention as parents in today’s society; however, I do not completely agree with the above statement. I can understand financial reasons, but I do not feel that any ‘personal’ reason should be prioritized above one’s own children. Children have a right to their parents’ time and attention (Proclamation on the Family, 1995). Whether it is the mother who spends most of the time with the children or the father or both balancing their schedules to be with the children it doesn’t matter, but parents need to be involved.

Berk also points out problems with trying to have quality time without quantity time:

“In sum, high-quality involvement with children requires a certain quantity of time—actually, a great deal…sandwiching concentrated time with [children] between work and other obligations, which often [take] precedence over family rituals, meant that routines that signal parental caring and that are major sources of development [go] by the wayside. For example, family dinner times and storybook reading at bedtime [become] rare events. So [does] the sheer enjoyment that comes from relaxed parent-child play; a joint cooking, art, or construction project; and a conversation based on real listening and exchange of ideas. Because these experiences [are then] so few and short-lived, [parents are] deprived of valuable opportunities….The ‘time-bind’ stifles an essential child-rearing responsibility…monitoring children’s experiences” (p. 7).

 reading together

“To grant children adequate attention and involvement, there is no substitute for slowing down and reexamining the pace of everyday life. Parents must ask questions like these:
  • Does my family have a sit-down meal together on most days of the week, free from the distractions of a blaring TV and a constantly ringing telephone?
  • Do I have time on most days to interact one-on-one with each of my children?
  • Do I involve my children positively and usefully in play and recreation and in accomplishing tasks of daily living—shopping, cleaning, gardening, cooking, decorating, or repairing?
  • Do I provide my children with predictable routines; clear consistently enforced rules; and sufficient oversight, while they are both within and beyond my immediate supervision—practices that help ensure that the time I share with them is plentiful, pleasurable, and constructively spent?” (p. 21).

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