Qual­ity trumps quan­tity of time spent with fa­thers Kids crave dad­i­ca­tion

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - SO­PHIE CHIRGWIN

FA­THERS are spend­ing more time with their young kids, but a new study shows the amount of time is ir­rel­e­vant com­pared to the way time is spent.

In a study of more than 3000 Aus­tralian chil­dren aged four to eight, Univer­sity of Queens­land re­searchers Fran­cisco Perales and Ja­neen Bax­ter ex­am­ined how father-child time re­lated to a young­ster’s cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment.

The re­port, in the Jour­nal of Mar­riage and Fam­ily, found it was the qual­ity, not quan­tity, of time that was cru­cial.

“The to­tal amount of father-child time is as­so­ci­ated with, at best, small im­prove­ments in chil­dren’s cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing,’’ the re­port says. “In con­trast, the amount of father-child time in ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties is as­so­ci­ated with mod­er­ate to large im­prove­ments.

“Such as­so­ci­a­tions are sim­i­lar for highly and less highly ed­u­cated fa­thers.’’

The best ac­tiv­i­ties to do with your kids were stim­u­lat­ing ones such as read­ing, play­ing games, do­ing home­work, or par­tic­i­pat­ing in so­cial events.

Over the past few decades in Western coun­tries, there has been a rise in fa­thers’ in- volve­ment in child­care, the re­searchers said.

“In this emerg­ing model of in­volved fa­ther­hood, fa­thers are not only ex­pected to act as in­come providers, but also to ac­tively en­gage with the dayto-day car­ing and up­bring­ing of their chil­dren,” the au­thors wrote.

Bris­bane dad Guy Cloth­ier said it was “ex­tremely im­por­tant” to spend qual­ity time with the kids, as well as ded­i­cate time to them in­di­vid­u­ally.

“For me, fam­ily time is ev­ery­thing,” he said.

“I can look back on my re­la­tion­ship with my father. He’s passed away now, but just look­ing back, you never get that time back and it’s just so im­por­tant to spend time with the chil­dren.

“As well as to­gether time, in­di­vid­ual time with each child is very im­por­tant so they can be their own per­son.”

Mr Cloth­ier said he tried to switch his kids from screen time to out­doors.

“Re­ally get­ting out and do­ing stuff with the kids is just so im­por­tant, even if it’s just a Sun­day drive up to the moun­tains and just lis­ten­ing to them say a thou­sand times, ‘Are we there yet, are we there yet?’ ” he said. LEARN­ING CURVE: Guy Cloth­ier with chil­dren Mar­got, 4, Nina, 6, and Arthur, 18 months. Pic­ture: AAP/John Gass

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