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Study says it's all about quality of parenting time, not quantity

By Sravanth Verma     Apr 12, 2015 in Health
A new study from the University of Toronto has concluded that it isn't how much time a parent spends with their kids that matters, it's the kind of time they spend.
The study focuses on kids between the ages of three and eleven years old, and concludes that there is absolutely no has virtually no correlation between how much time a parent spends with a child, and how children grow up. They did find a minimal correlation in this for adolescents.
“I could literally show you 20 charts, and 19 of them would show no relationship between the amount of parents’ time and children’s outcomes,” said Melissa Milkie, one of the report’s authors and a sociologist at the University of Toronto .
Kei Nomaguchi, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University, and a study co-author, points out that in instances when the mother is stressed, time spent with children could actually have a negative effect. “Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly."
This doesn't imply that parents needn't spend time with their children. It means they should focus on spending quality time, rather than just being around with kids. Just how much of this quality time is necessary is still not known. “I’m not aware of any rich and telling literature on whether there’s a ‘sweet spot’ of the right amount of time to spend with kids,” said Matthew Biel, who works at Georgetown University Medical Center as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. According to Biel, studies do show that involved and strict parents can reduce kids' delinquent behavior, in highly stressed urban environments.
Prior studies have also looked at the influence of quality time spent by parents. However, the latest study is the first large-scale longitudinal study that looks at the effects of parent-children interaction.
The paper was published in April in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
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