Modern parents spend more time with their kids than their own parents did with them, 52% of moms and 46% of dads told Pew Research in 2015. For fathers in particular, the amount of time they spend caring for children is more than double what it was in 1965. However, they still may feel they are not doing enough. Forty-eight percent of dads say they wish they spent more time with their kids, and 25% of moms say the same. At the same time, more than 50% of both parents say they find it hard to balance work and family life.
As kids transition into adulthood, the pressure only seems to increase if kids’ failures and shortcomings appear to underscore that sensitivity. In Abandoned Faith, Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez discuss young adults who have walked away from their family’s values, and they describe how they always encounter the same reactions in speaking to parents of those children: I didn’t do enough.
Can parents do more? They certainly seem to be trying to reach the max. An American parent spends twice as much time parenting alone with their kids than European parents might, according to a January 2017 study from the journal Demographic Research that compared American parents to their counterparts in Spain and France. At the same time, parents are extending responsibility for their kids far beyond adolescence and teen years. Parents may be paying their kid’s bills, providing them with a home, and taking upon themselves the full burden of remedying their kid’s struggles or poor decisions. And this fledgling stage for children is continuing long beyond the college years.
As John Rosemond, family and parenting expert psychologist, points out in AFS’ Cultural Institute video, The Problem with Child Psychology: “In 1970, the average age of male emancipation in America was between the 20th and 21st birthdays. Today, the average of male emancipation in America – I mean successful, complete, you’re paying your own bills, your parents are not sending you a check every month – is approaching 28.”
“What’s happened in the last 45 years is that the marriage-centered family has been replaced by the child-centered family,” he adds.
The Demographic Research survey gives grounds to agree with him. Compared to the 232 minutes a day parents spends alone with their kids, and the 208 minutes a day they spend together as a family, the couple spend only 46 minutes a day alone with each other. A myriad of other studies document the impact that is had on a marriage when couples’ first priority is elsewhere. One 2016 study from the Marriage Foundation in Britain found that parents who regularly spent one-on-one time in a “date night” were 14% less likely to divorce.
The impact is clear. What is negative for the marriage will end up being negative for the children. It goes back to the foundational principle for family, Genesis 2:24 – the two becoming one flesh.
“That is where the family begins,” Rosemond says in the video. “That is a biblical principle. And you cannot violate any instruction from God and not bring down trouble on your head. But today’s parents are raising their children from the roles of mother and father [instead of] the roles of husband and wife. They have slipped out of the roles God has commanded them to occupy in the family.”
If a marriage crumbles or couples’ relationship suffers, what might have been meant to benefit the child ends up harming them in the long run. On the other hand, when Mom and Dad are clearly in a committed relationship with each other before anyone else, in Rosemond’s words, that is the “best news in a child’s life.”
Read more about spending time building up your marriage in the May 2017 issue of AFA Journal - https://afajournal.org/past-issues/2017/may/keep-your-marriage-full-when-the-nest-is-empty/. Rosemond’s parenting videos from the AFS’ Cultural Institute DVD series are also available from the AFA store – www.afastore.net/cultural-institute-john-rosemond-parenting-set.