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- the study examined children ages 3-11 and adolescents ages 12-18
- the outcomes that were assessed in the children included emotional adjustment, academic achievement and behavior
- the authors looked two types of time: (1) accessible time—time in presence of mother, but not engaged in an activity; (2) engaged time—basically any time engaged with the mother in an activity
- the data came from time diaries from one weekday and one weekend day. The authors “created” weekly sums by extrapolating 2 day sums to a full week (they say this is a common practice)
- they also looked at children and adolescents’ time spent with their father (alone) and both parents
- as usual, the study include other structural factors—mothers’ education, family income, family structure (i.e., two-parent, single parent, step-family, etc)
First, the main finding that prompted all the headlines was this one: the sheer amount of time mothers spent with their children was not associated with any of the child outcomes. It did not matter when the authors looked at engaged time or accessible time; the amount of time was not related to outcomes. This was for children only; there were some relevant findings concerning time spent with adolescents (I’ll save that for another post).
“although we examined engaged time, in which children and mothers were interacting with each other, we did not focus on quality time – the amount of time in particular quality activities with children, such as reading or eating meals together versus watching TV or cleaning with them – neither did we assess the quality or tone of mothers interaction with children, such as warmth, sensitivity or focus.”
What is Quality Time?
Guilt is Not the Answer