With cultural shifts and modern understandings of child psychology, parenting styles and expectations have changed over the years. For many Texas parents today, that means not only a full-time career, but also nearly every free hour spent with the kids.
Parenting wasn't always like this, though. In fact, according to one study, each day mothers in 1965 spent 36 minutes playing with and teaching their kids, but by 1998 that amount of time had increased to 129 minutes every day. Keep in mind, too, that the number of women working outside of the home in 1965 was much, much lower than it is today.
It's also widely known that today's working dads are spending a lot more time with the kids than dads did in the past.
Is all of this intensive parenting time actually helping the kids?
Whether you're married, separated or divorced, it goes without saying that the best interests of your children are the top priority. But psychologists and experts say that, to be the best parent you can be, you also need some time to yourself, just as your kids need time to develop on their own.
In fact, one recent study concluded that the modern norm of parents' being intensively involved in their young children's lives isn't actually helping the kids, particularly those between the ages of 3 and 11. The researchers found that today's increased parental involvement at that age had no correlation to emotional and behavioral problems, nor was there a correlation with reading and math scores.
However, for teens older than 11, the results were different: as you might expect, more parental engagement helped prevent delinquency.
There is, though, a growing concern that, between work and caring for their kids, parents are getting burnt out, which isn't good for them or their children.
So how can parents find time for themselves?
Everybody is different, and how you choose to recharge your parental and professional energies is up to you. Maybe you meditate; maybe you watch a game by yourself; maybe you exercise. In any case, experts say that parents need to understand the importance of not only child care, but also self-care.
If you and your partner or spouse are planning to separate or divorce, then it also helps to have a good parenting plan that takes into account both of your careers and obligations, as well as the best interests of your child.
For more on that, please see our overview of creative parenting plans for Texas parents.
We also discussed these issues further in one of our previous posts, "Busy Work Schedules Complicate Child Custody, But There Are Solutions."