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Working Mom Thoughts: Spending Time With Your Kids Might Just Matter (Part I)

On the Today Show the other day, Ludacris said, "For all the parents out there living busy lives, you have to take time out to take care of your kids". He's no scholar, but I think that he has a point. The funny thing is his comment is somewhat contrary to the results of a report published by some scholars that declared, “quality time with kids trumps spending greater quantities of time with them”.  That conclusion was music to many working moms' ears. However, it sounded like nails on a chalk board to me...

Can Working Moms Work Full Time and Spend Enough Time With Their Kids?

In this age of helicopter parenting all parents wonder whether we are engaged enough with our children. Working moms tend to suffer more guilt than stay-at-home moms or dads because our work tends to be viewed as optional. Accordingly, we wonder whether our “choice” to work prohibits us from engaging enough with our children. Professional moms tend to undertake even more responsibilities than what their actual jobs require—attending conferences, events, and serving on boards—increasingly spend even more time out of the home. We question, how do we work full time and spend enough time with our kids let alone our spouses.

Given this daily conflict, and our increasing buying power, it isn’t surprising that someone, in this case, The Journal on Marriage and Family, would come out with a study. The study is entitled, "Does the Amount of Time Mothers Spend With Children or Adolescents Matter?"  The conclusion reached is "[i]t appears the sheer amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how children turn out". To be fair, we should point out what the study does not say. It does not say anything about whether the time that mothers spend with very young children matters. That means that moms deciding whether to return to work after maternity leave should not use this study to help them with that decision making process.

Recent Study: It Does Not Matter How Much Time You Spend With Your Kids

The study does give working moms looking to shake the guilt a strong out. We are all focused on making value added decisions. If the amount of time we spend with our kids adds no value, surely we can reduce that time without consequence. We can all breathe a sigh of relief and give up any guilt we have about being away from our kids because at the end it just doesn’t matter. And if we need anything to make use feel even better, the study found that children who come from higher income households tend to perform better in school and have better outcomes in life. Based on this research you could almost conclude that it doesn't matter if mothers spend a lot of time with their kids as long as they went to Harvard and can afford nice vacations...

Contrary Opinion:  Yes, Your Time as a Parent Does Make a Difference

I wonder if this study was commissioned by Ivy League educated, high income, working moms like Sheryl Sandberg as a tool to convince working moms to unapologetically "lean in" without worrying about the effect on their kids. They might also use the study to help with relationships with their tweens and adolescents. They can point to it when their kids complain of abandonment and say, “You’ll be better off since I wasn't around much!” Or better yet, perhaps the study was commissioned by Corporate America to justify having antiquated, rig policies? I don't know who funded the study, but it would be nice to find out... 

Tune in tomorrow for "Working Mom Thoughts: Spending Time With Your Kids Might Just Matter (Part II)"

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