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Study: Time is the Best Gift for Kids

A new report underscores the importance of family time when it comes to child development.
A new report underscores the importance of family time when it comes to child development.
November 27, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, experts want parents to consider the power of the gift of time. A new report underlines the importance of family time when it comes to child development.

Researchers from the nonprofit Search Institute found time has more of an impact than other demographic factors such as race and income.

Parenting expert and former editor of Mothering Magazine Peggy O'Mara 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," says O'Mara. "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 including expressing care of the child, encourage personal growth, provide support, share in decision-making and connecting 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," Aird says.

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 the parent as they try to spend more quality time with their child is the most valuable way to further child development.

"In this country 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," says O'Mara.

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

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL