Fast Company Article Re-submitted, Jan.-Feb. 2000 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

What parents seem to be in denial about is the effect that their pressured lives have on their kids.

By Tony Schwartz

Fast Company, January-February 2000

p. 236-238, p. 240

Summary and reflection submitted by Jill Katrin

December 29. 1999

Tony Schwartz discusses findings found by Ellen Galinsky, author of Ask the Children: What Americas Children Really Think About Working Parents in this article. This book is based on a work-family study of more than 1,000 children in grades 3 through 12, along with 600 of their parents. The findings reveal evidence of the importance and impact of sound child/parent relationships. Children and parents were surveyed about the following: How much time parents spend with their children; how mothers and fathers handle work-family issues; what children would wish for if they could change the way that their mothers/fathers work affects their lives; and what children appreciate in time spent with their parents. This paper will summarize the results of this study and list suggestions for parents in how working parents can change the way that they spend time with their children.

Galinskys study revealed that todays parents were found to be spending more cumulative time with their children than they did twenty years ago. This is largely due to fathers becoming more involved. Working male and female spouses are both breadwinners and caregivers in todays society.

Nearly 75 percent of the kids studied believe that their mothers handle work-family issues well, and 69 percent feel that way about their fathers. (Galinsky) Most children in this study revealed that they feel better cared for by their mothers than by their fathers. The findings suggest that parents exaggerate the amount of time that they spend with their chidren. Also, children revealed that their parenting suffers when their parents are stressed at work.

When children were asked what they would change in the way that their morthers/fathers work affects their life the results were as follows. 34 percent of kids said that what they want most is for their parents to be less stressed, or less tired, because of their work. Only 10 percent of kids said that theyd like more time with their mothers, and only 15.5 percents said the same aboout their fathers. (Galinsky) Parents surveyed thought their childrens top choice would be spending more time with them. Interesting, but not surprising results.

The following issues with children may result when kids whose parents spend less time with them:

Kids are more likely to have trouble getting along with other children; experience difficulty concentrating; tend to feel sad and depressed; to be nervous and high-strung; and to experience feelings of inferiority and worthlessness. These results reveal that the quantity of time parents spend with their children greatly affects them.

Children appreciate the time their parents spend with them. Working parents can change the way that they spend time with their children. Galinsky listed the following suggestions for parents: pay more attention to family routines and rituals; create boundaries in your life; be there when it counts; talk more about your work life; and find out how your kids are feeling, even if they seem to resist telling you.

I found this article particularily interesting because I often feel the stuggle of juggling time spent with my children with work and working on my M.Ed. degree. I feel ashamed when I turn my son down when he asks me to play a game with him. I feel so many stresses right now being so busy. I want to be a SUPERMOM and do it all! Getting everything to balance can be quite a challenge.

Holidays on top of everything else add fuel to the fire. The last two weeks of school before the holidays were really stressful. I really realized how much my husband helps when he got sick during this busy time. I was attending evening classes, painting props for my sons 6th grade play, costume hunting, shopping, baking, decorating, planning for school projects, attending plays and concerts, wrapping presents, and whatever else came along.

My husband and I have always tried to be active in whatever our kids are active in. I know our kids really appreciate it by the way they express their feelings. They are disappointed when we cant be at their games watching them, or participate in activities with them. I feel my husband spends more time playing with our children and helping them with certain skills than I do. Im sure if my children were surveyed they would say they spend more time doing things they like to do than I do with them. I am optimistic though that they appreciate many of the things I do with them and for them. I sure appreciate having time off from work to spend more quality time with my family. Our latest endeavor was bowling at the new bowling alley. The first time I bowled, I slipped and fell flat on my bottom. Im not sure who had more fun laughing : me, my family, or everyone else watching.

I thought Galinskys suggestions of how to spend time with your children were helpful and logical. I feel I am very aware of their importance and impact on children. One area I am lacking in is telling my children about my work life. They do ask me how my day was at work, but I dont usually say to much. I will try to share more about my daily experiences. I sure look forward to finding out how my childrens day went, and what is happening in their lives. Both of my children are comfortable talking to my husband and I about whatever. I hope our relationship will continue to grow as we head into the next millennium.

-- Anonymous, December 29, 1999

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