I know the amount of time I spent with my kids when they were growing up was way more than the time I spent with my own parents. This is not a slam on my parents — the world changed. Below is some data from The Economist showing that parents are now spending twice as much time with kids now than they did 50 years ago. Of course, between 1965 and today there have been countless changes, adaptions and differences throughout society. Most notably is technological growth. But, a frequently overlooked aspect is the differences within family relationships and interactions. Children are being handed more and given more attention. How do we know we have the relationship with our kids we want? How do we set goals for a great relationship with each child? Here is one idea: Track your time with them.
So the time commitment has increased — what does this mean to me?
– Time is for experiences. Create more experiences. Do more. I still visit my kids every 90 days or less.
– Time is for teaching. Teach your family history, your family values, your goals. When my kids were young, I created a Coppola family presentation that was all about who we were as a family. You get to teach your kids who you and your family are…do it.
– Time for connecting. Be with them. Develop the relationship you want. This should bring you joy (especially when you have great adult kids—a lot less work). Jesse Itzler says “Be where your feet are.”
Here is one cool tip: I have been giving my Advanced Goal Setting talk quite a bit in the past six months. One of my “secrets” I coach during my presentation is how much I track my goals (because we all know setting goals and making sure they have a specific outcome is paramount—right?). This secret applies to time spent with my kids, which I track every month.
Rule #1 from my book The Fantastic Life: Know Your Story
Cultivating a strong relationship with your kids means sharing your story with them — because your story is theirs too. Take the time to communicate this to your children, and watch them grow their own story. It’s one of the best parts about being a parent.
Parents now spend twice as much time with their children as 50 years ago
Except in France
PARENTS these days spend a lot more time with their offspring, or at least middle-class parents do. One analysis of 11 rich countries estimates that the average mother spent 54 minutes a day caring for children in 1965 but 104 minutes in 2012. Men do less than women, but far more than men in the past: their child-caring time has jumped from 16 minutes a day to 59.
At the same time a gap has opened between working-class and middle-class parents. In 1965, mothers with and without a university education spent about the same amount of time on child care. By 2012, the more educated ones were spending half an hour more per day. The exception is France, where the stereotype of a bourgeois couple sipping wine and ignoring their remarkably well-behaved progeny appears to be accurate.
Read more in our marriage special report.