Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
We live in a time when we must learn new
skills to cope with a flood of information, new technologies, and the loss of
community support for our families. The almost inevitable outcome is that most
adults feel unable to spend enough time with their children– time which is
critical to their children’s well-being.
What are some of the things our
children need from us?
- Children need adult’s time and involvement
in their lives.
- Children need parents to recognize the value of
allowing free time for play.
What is the impact of
work-life choices on your children?
- Time: Spending time with your children is
important. The actual amount of time that parents spend with children is less
than at any other time in the sixty years for which statistics have been kept.
Family routines, which are very important to the development of a sense of
stability and security in a child, are lost. It is not only the amount of time
we spend with our children, but the quality of that time that is important.
Children complain not only about their parents often being absent, but also
about their being cranky and distracted when they are around.
- Nutrition: Children’s nutrition is
suffering. One study of a large Toronto school found that 50 percent of
children in junior school were coming to school without having eaten a proper
breakfast - or, for the most part, any breakfast at all.
- Homework: The amount of homework a child
does is the best indicator of long-term success in school. Tired or absent
parents don’t have the time or energy to exercise the necessary
involvement in overseeing their children’s homework.
- Reading skills: The quality of dinner
table discussion is the single best predictor of how a child reads. With
current time pressures and seventy-hour work weeks with unpredictable schedules,
business travel and meetings, few families are able to have dinner together on a
- Overall emotional development: Work
demands on their parents can increase children’s exposure to negative
- Children feel less secure and experience a high
level of stress.
- Guilty parents may barter material good for
- Benefits of family-friendly policies - provide,
utilize and promote them.
- Family-friendly policies lessen conflicts between
work and family responsibilities. This takes pressure off parents who carry a
double load, leaving them with more time and energy for their children.
- Family-friendly workplaces make it easier and
less stressful for employees to be with their children if they are sick or
needing their parents attention in other situations, like handling school
- Family-friendly workplaces make it possible for
parents to be more involved in their children’s day-to-day activities
– to meet with teachers, help with homework, go to school concerts or
watch sports event. Three decades of research has shown that parental
involvement really works to make education better.
- Family-friendly policies support family
involvement which helps today’s student to become tomorrow’s well
educated, highly skilled and motivated workforce.
How do I, as a parent,
integrate the many demands on my time?
- Evaluate every time commitment.
- Become vigilant in saying "no" - learn to
determine which requests for work overload are really important.
- Know your limitations.
- Refresh yourselves on weekends.
- Become more dispassionate in your relationship to
work and define yourself independently of it.
- Set priorities.
- Seek flexible work arrangements to maximize
- Make time for personal priorities.
- Evaluate alternatives to your current grueling
To think about:
- "The time famine in North American society does
not just affect working adults. Children are starved, too - starved of
meaningful time spent with their parents."
- Approximately two-thirds of working mothers and
half of working fathers experience unreasonably high stress levels.