Good news! Parents understand that spending quality time with their children benefits their kids' health and well-being. Unfortunately, many parents have little time to donate to the cause. A new study reveals that almost all parents and other child caregivers (94 percent)acknowledge the relationship between the amount of meaningful time adults spend with children and the major issues facing youth today, such as discipline problems, youth violence and substance abuse. Yet, almost half of parents (49 percent) have failed to set aside time to talk with their children in the past year about sexual pressures, 30 percent haven't carved out moments to discuss problems within the family and nearly a quarter (23 percent) have been too busy for conversations about the dangers of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol use.
The report, entitled â€œMeaningful Time Check-up on U.S. Children and Families,â€? came out of a survey developed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and KidsPeace, The National Center for Kids Overcoming Crisis. The study takes a stern look at the amount of meaningful time and effort adults devote to their kids to ensure their physical health and safety, nutrition, medical care, emotional state, and educational success. It also asks caregivers about how much they think quality time (or lack thereof) influences children's overall well-being, and about the factors that personally prevent them from spending more time with their kids. The survey of 1,000 parents and caregivers with children under 18 living at home was conducted by telephone by The Polling Company between June 2 and 8, 2003.
One finding: Kids today do not get enough physical activity. The grim reality of kids' expanding waistlines is not lost on parents. The majority of caregivers in the survey say they understand the importance of spending time doing some kind of physical activity with their kids, and yet almost two-thirds (64 percent) admit that they have little or no time to do so. Even if they could find the time, they often encounter another obstacle. More than 4 in 10 adults (43 percent) say they have little or no access to community playgrounds, parks or other safe places to play with their children. Black and Hispanic parents are more likely to face this hurdle (63 percent and 46 percent, respectively) than are whites (38 percent).
In addition to the physical, parents also have trouble finding time to nurture their kids' emotional well-being. More than 1 in 5 adults in the survey (22 percent) say that, in the last 12 months, their child frequently exhibited sadness or unusual behavioral changes that worried them, and 56 percent report that their children are specifically upset about terrorism. Yet 35 percent have not talked with their kids about war or terrorism, and 66 percent have not discussed an emergency plan with them in the event of a terrorist attack. Overall, a third of adults feel that they don't have enough time or they wish they had more time to talk with their children about their problems, and more than half say that they could use more guidance on how to broach the tough topics.
For more information or to download the full report, visit www.kidsday.net