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Why family time is less fun

Date

Julie Power

If parents felt they worked too hard, the children were quick to feel the same thing.

If parents felt they worked too hard, the children were quick to feel the same thing. Photo: Janie Barrett

ABOUT one in three 10-year-old children say their parents work too hard, and about one-quarter of all parents agree, according to new research by the Australian Institute for Family Studies.

For the first time, researchers asked a large group of children aged 10 to 11 - about 4000 of them - what they thought about their parents' working habits. About 35 per cent of these children thought their fathers worked too much, while 27 per cent said their mothers worked too much.

And if parents felt they worked too hard, the children were quick to feel the same thing.

When fathers told researchers their work made family time less fun, 43 per cent of children said their dads worked too much. It was the same with mothers, with one-third of 10 to 11 year olds saying their mothers worked too hard when their mothers had said work was making family time less fun.

According to institute researcher Dr Jennifer Baxter, the study shows children are very sensitive to their parents' working patterns and stresses.

''They see their parents working long hours and not coming home until late and weekends. Kids notice that and sense that they are missing out on time with their mother or father,'' Dr Baxter said.

Children liked spending time with their parents: 76 per cent of children said they had fun with their families for ''lots of time''. And when parents reported having fun with their kids, their children were also more likely to say it was fun.

Despite the challenges for families of balancing work and family, 67 per cent of mothers and fathers said work had a positive effect on their children, with parents more likely to feel good about working as their children got older.

31 comments

  • Compared to who? People in Europe or Asia?
    We go into debt, we have to work harder.
    Nothing is free.
    Judging by your poll I'd say we ARE lazy.

    Commenter
    torch
    Location
    melbourne
    Date and time
    May 15, 2012, 8:18AM
    • Totally agree with you..! I worked in Singapore for few years in the past and I can say that the work life balance here in Australia is superb! I would say that those people who vote YES in the poll (that they work too many hours) are just a LAZY bunch.

      While I agree for social net to help the underpriviledged, it should be distributed in a way that will encourage people to work; and not to promote laziness.

      Commenter
      jowb
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 11:21AM
    • I agree, these 10 year olds sound lazy. They should be out working and saving for a deposit on a house.

      Every generation should live better than the last. Previous generations fought hard so that we can spend all our time from the cradle to the grave paying off a nice 2 bedroom tomb. God bless them.

      Commenter
      in my day...
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 1:57PM
    • Nice generalisation jowb.

      Commenter
      Thriller
      Date and time
      May 16, 2012, 10:19AM
    • Jowb, I'm curious to know from your Singapore experience: How many mums went back to work full-time when their babies were 6 weeks old or younger? How many Singapore families had both parents working 60-70 hour weeks, leaving their children with other carers? Is it the attitude in Singapore that you are lazy if you take time off to look after children and infants? Just wondering....

      Commenter
      Mumtwothree
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 16, 2012, 3:01PM
  • Parents have always worked too hard and too long, if you want to get somewhere in life then you have to work and NOT rely on all the handouts from the govt. I am nearly 60 and even my parents worked long and hard, you are just realising that now? What is the problem with people today? Afraid of a little hard work? Maybe some of the benefits should be cancelled then people would really know what it is like to have to work for everything!!!

    Commenter
    Rosemary
    Date and time
    May 15, 2012, 8:39AM
    • You sound like a typical old person- always saying things were better in your day and/or the younger generation wasn't as good as you delusionally believe you were. There nothing wrong with hard work, but whats the sense in overworking yourself to the point you can't take time to enjoy life or spend time with your family? And since i've been in the workforce for over 20 years, I can say that employers have become far more demanding than they use to be, and there is more dimensions to work than 20 years ago. Real wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living, so don't give us this crap that we should work ourselves to an early grave for someone elses benefit.
      BTW- if you want to take away handouts, lets scrap all old age pensions immediately. All the baby boomers are enjoying an advantage 10 years today won't get, so why should we subsidise their retirement? Using your logic- if they don't work they die!

      Commenter
      B
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 9:07PM
  • I think it's not that they are working harder, it's more likely that they work in the city and live 30-45+ mins out by public transport. So when you take that into consideration plus the state of the some public transport systems. They spend at least an hour of the day traveling.

    Commenter
    lukea
    Date and time
    May 15, 2012, 8:41AM
    • Are these the same kids who would be the first to complain when they don't get that xbox, Wii, PS3, trendy clothes, private school education, organised sporting activities, annual holiday, home theatre systems, ipads, ipods, iphones, phone plans, pocket money etc etc etc? Geez I was born in the wrong generation being a parent who works and not the child who receives! Of course we all want to give our kids the best but it does come at a price. Most of us can't have our cake and eat it too.

      Commenter
      Overworked Mum
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 8:49AM
      • Perhaps they 'whinge' for so much stuff because they have learned that stuff has come to replace meaningful relationships.

        Commenter
        Alison
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 8:57AM

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