Time spent by parents with their children has doubled compared to 50 years ago

By on December 2, 2017

With an increase in use of digital devices all over the world,  most people would think that the time spent by parents with their children has been reduced to nothing.

A recent study in eleven European and North American countries shows quite the contrary.  Compared to 1965, parents today spend twice as much time on average, looking after their children. Fifty years ago, mothers spent 54 minutes a day with their children.  In 2012, that number jumped to 104 minutes.  Child minding for fathers jumped from 16 mins a day to 59 minutes.

Japan was not included in the study but according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare,  67% of Japanese dads spend more than 6 hours a day with their children on weekends and non-working days, with more than 90% of children’s outside-of-school time  spent with mothers.

The only exception to this trend is France, where the time spent with children decreased slightly between 1965 and 2012, from 100 minutes to 80 minutes in mothers with a university education and 60 minutes for those without.

The Economist, which published the graph based on a study of more than 120,000 parents, attempted to explain this exception:

“The stereotype bourgeois couple who drink wine and ignore their incredibly well-behaved children seems to be accurate.”

Judith Treas, the American sociologist who conducted this research explains as follows:

“Public spending on childcare is high in France, which eases parental responsibilities. Some experts also assume that the French simply think that children adapt well, without the parents having to adjust their way of life”.

The country that has seen the greatest increase in time spent with children is Denmark, which has gone from 10 minutes a day to 225 minutes for mothers.

French fathers are among those who spend the least time with their children, with 50 minutes a day for fathers with university education, compared to 100 minutes for Canadians and 110 for the British.

It is in France, the United States, Spain, Italy and Slovenia that the gap between university graduates and non-graduates is the widest, with 20 to 30 minutes more in graduates.

The authors of the study believe that the increase in the time spent is partly due to a changing trend in educational philosophy where the more engaged parents are, the higher its value is to children.

Despite this trend, many parents feel guilty. One-third of American  mothers and 48% of fathers think they are not spending enough time as they should with their children.

About Tim Furukawa

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