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Study: Time With Children Matters Most

amily advocates and research emphasizes the importance of parents spending time with their children this Thanksgiving week. Credit: jusbeb/
amily advocates and research emphasizes the importance of parents spending time with their children this Thanksgiving week. Credit: jusbeb/
November 23, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This Thanksgiving week, advocates for families advise parents to relish time with their children.

A new report from the children’s advocacy group Search Institute, stresses the importance of extra family time when it comes to development.

Researchers found family time has more of an impact than demographic factors such as race and income.

Peggy O'Mara, former editor of Mothering Magazine, says it confirms basic principles of how humans develop.

"We really learn by mimicking and by modeling rather than by being told what to do,” she explains. “So when parents interact with their children, when they show interest in them, when they help them realize their potential, the children do that themselves, with their families and with themselves as they grow up. "

The report recommends parents take five essential actions to foster development – express care for the child, encourage personal growth, provide support, share in decision-making and connect a child to opportunities.

Enola Aird, founder of Mothers for a Human Future, says the report validates long held societal values of the parent-child relationship, but adds it's also important to acknowledge the impact outside forces can have on raising children.

"No matter how much we may want to foster relationships, no matter how much we want to foster connectedness in our individual families, we live in a culture that is radically individualistic and radically consumer-driven, and those are forces that really do undermine relationships," she points out.

O'Mara says while social programs often focus on improving household income and increasing the amount of child care available to parents as they work, supporting parents as they try to spend more quality time with their child is the most valuable way to further child development.

"In this country, oh, it's just like the wild frontier as far as what parents are so out on their own, and I think supporting families financially in different ways would really be something to take home from this study," she says.

The report recommends that schools further engage families and support their efforts to be better parents.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN