A new study, the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time (published April 2015 in the Journal of Marriage and Family) asks the question, “Do parents, especially mothers, spend enough time with their children?”
The Washington Post compares the results of the study to the “widespread cultural assumption that the time parents, particularly mothers, spend with children is key to ensuring a bright future.”
Their conclusion: The “new research upends that conventional wisdom and finds that that isn’t the case. At all.”
The study looked at the long term success outcomes (e.g., academic achievement, behavior, and emotional well-being) of children aged 3 to 11 in relation to the time they spent with their mothers.
Even though moms spend far more time with their children today than they did in the 1960s or 1970s (almost twice as much from 1975 to 2010—7.3 hours per week in 1975 compared to 13.7 hours in 2010), there seemed to be no substantial difference in the child’s overall success outcome.
In fact, quite to the contrary, the study found that a Mom’s time spent with her kids could actually be harmful if she was stressed or anxious. “Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” said co-author Kei Nomaguchi, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University.
The Proverbs 31 woman stands as an example of a working mom who operated vineyards, sewed clothing, and looked after all the needs of her household, all while raising a family. Like the modern mother, her days were long and her time was precious. For the mother who strives to be the best wife and mother she can be, these pressures just can't be avoided. But there is one burden that every mother would do well to unload.
If this study calls moms to anything, it’s to stop bearing the weight of unrealistic expectations and guilt. Work when you must, nurture whenever and however you can. But DON’T punish yourself for not being able to do it all! It’s the anxiety, the lack of trust in God's sovereign care, that will cause the most harm to you and to your children.
It's good for them to see more of you, so long as more time means they see more of your faith.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
“BE STILL and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).