Thursday, February 5, 2009

High-maintenance parenthood

Parents today spend much more time with their children than they did 40 years ago. The sociologists Suzanne Bianchi, John Robinson and Melissa Milkie report that married mothers in 2000 spent 20 percent more time with their children than in 1965. Married fathers spent more than twice as much time.

A study by John Sandberg and Sandra Hofferth at the University of Michigan showed that by 1997 children in two-parent families were getting six more hours a week with Mom and four more hours with Dad than in 1981. And these increases occurred even as more mothers entered the labor force.

Couples found some of these extra hours by cutting back on time spent in activities where children were not present — when they were alone as a couple, visiting with friends and kin, or involved in clubs. But in the long run, shortchanging such adult-oriented activities for the sake of the children is not good for a marriage. Indeed, the researcher Ellen Galinsky has found that most children don’t want to spend as much time with their parents as parents assume; they just want their parents to be more relaxed when they are together.
--Stephanie Coontz, professor of history at Evergreen State College and director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families, on how life revolves around your kids more than it used to


themikelee said...

I recently was told that the best thing parents can do for their kids is prioritize the health of their marriage, and I think that's true. There was also an article I read last year about how children have become the center of our lives. Can't remember the article though...Kinderocracy something?

themikelee said...

The Kindergarchy, by Joe Epstein in the Weekly Standard. Though I found the article slightly mean-spirited.