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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 00:10 GMT
Parents 'boosting' quality time
Mother and child
Parents have trebled child commitment, say researchers
Working parents are devoting more quality time to their children than previous generations, despite time-consuming jobs, research has shown.

The study - carried out by The Future Foundation - flies in the face of claims that modern parents, especially working mothers, have less time to spend with their children.

It found the amount of time invested by parents in their children's upbringing had more than trebled over the past three decades.

And full-time working parents were found to spend more time with their children than their part-time and non-working counterparts, by talking to their children and enjoying planned leisure activities, such as swimming and trips to museums together.

Researchers concluded that parents devote an average 85 minutes a day to each child. This compares with 25 minutes a day in the mid 1970s.

And it is predicted that the figure will rise to 100 minutes a day by 2010.

Three generations of families were questioned on their attitudes to parenting, and found that new men are not a myth. Today's fathers were found to be more involved in their children's lives than their own fathers or grandfathers were.

Family with baby
More fathers are said to be equal partners in parenting
The study also highlighted a new concept of "positive parenting", where mothers and fathers are equally committed to working hard to be good parents and providing the best for their offspring, both materially and emotionally.

Fewer than one in 10 respondents taking part in the study said they spent less time with their children than their own parents did.

'Parental neurosis'

The vast majority said they took parenting more seriously than their own mothers and fathers.

Michael Wilmott, co-founder of the foundation, said: "We predict that parenting is going to take up even more time and energy in the future, as the desire to be an accomplished parent increases.

"If society continues to blame a range of problems on the perceived failings of parents, parental neurosis and stress could increase.

"The result may be a huge demand for parenting classes - which could become as commonplace as antenatal classes are today."

Tim Harrison, of Abbey National, which commissioned the study, said an increasing desire for creative involvement with children, and for family democracy, had also been detected.

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