According to the Population Reference Bureau, modern moms and dads spend the same amount of time with their kids as parents did four decades ago. That said, long hours at work and hectic schedules make parents busier than in the past. Between your job, household chores, carpool and all of your other obligations, spending time as a family is a must when it comes to maximizing the positive effects that you have on your little one.
Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Use
While you might lecture your child on the perils of drug, alcohol and tobacco use, researchers at the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University find that kids who spend more time with parents having family dinners are less likely to use or abuse these substances. Does this mean that simply sitting down and eating a meal with your child means that he's going to stand up to the peer pressures involved in early substance use? Not necessarily. Instead, kids who are likely to eat more family dinners with their parents spend more time with mom and dad and have better (and closer) relationships with family members.
According to The Heritage Foundation, children who spend time with, and have close relationships with, their parents may not engage in as many violent activities as those who don't. A high level of communication with parents as well as tight-knit bonds may serve as a protective factor, keeping kids from acting out in violent ways such as bullying. This isn't to say that having a close family will stop your child from ever acting in violent ways. Instead, keeping the lines of communication open, doing activities together and forming loving relationships may have positive effects when it comes to keeping kids from acting in violent ways.
Negative Attention and Behavior
Some behavior problems are actually a call, or scream, for attention. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, the busy lifestyle that affects most families may result in attention-seeking behaviors from children. Kids may act out, throw tantrums, exhibit defiance or other negative actions that make them stand out to the parents. Spending time together can combat these behaviors, heading them off before they start. If you notice that your child is going out of his way to act out, add in a few extra family meals each week, have a family game night or create a special bedtime ritual such as reading together.
The Family Bond
The family bond can affect children in many ways, ranging from building better communication to providing your child with a sense of security. Healthy Children recommends that parents make family rituals or activities regular parts of the bonding process. These can include almost any activity that is important to your specific family's beliefs, interests and values. If you are a particularly sporty family, going to a local ball game or playing a weekly game of basketball are ideal ways to bond. Other family rituals may include regular trips to the library or museum, religious activities or even singing together.
- Population Reference Bureau: Do Parents Spend Enough Time With Their Children?
- National Center on Addiction and Sunstance Abuse at Columbia University: The Importance of Family Dinners VII
- The Heritage Foundation: Family Facts: A Wise Investment: Benefits from Families Spending Time Together
- Healthy Children: Positive Parenting: How to Encourage Good Behavior
- Healthy Children: Your Family Rituals
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