Families spending less time together

Supper always has been an important part of our family ritual.
While I was growing up, breakfast was always a catch as catch can. My brother, sister, and parents all ate as they got up.
Because we lived close to schools, we always came home and had lunch with my mother. Together we sat at the table and talked about the morning’s events.
Come supper, every member of our family sat down for a meal.
My two sons seemed to follow a pattern similar to the one I grew up with. That is, until the high school was moved to the west end. With the move, they began packing lunches to school.
Then, the only time we sat down for a meal was supper.
It was an important time. At the supper table, we discovered all sorts of things in animated conversation.
Evenings would find us watching television or participating in their activities. Driving them to swimming, gymnastics, and school activities. Summers we boated, fished, and spent lots of time at the cottage.
With cousins, aunts, and uncles, the dining table expanded. We all joined in the meal at the table.
Times have changed. My sons are grown and away. Families seem to be getting busier every day. Yet supper remains a time to connect in our busy lives.
Last week the numbers came in. Moms and dads are spending less time with their children than their parents spent with them only two decades earlier.
The study released just last week found that mothers spent, on average, 209 minutes of time with their children daily—down from 248 minutes two decades earlier.
Fathers spent an average of 205 minutes a day, down from 250 minutes.
That lost time spent by parents with their children amounts to almost five work weeks less by each parent over the course of a year. The majority of that time is being transferred to the workplace.
The surprising information comes about as the expected free time from work continues to evaporate.
Technology was expected to create more free time for family and recreation. It was expected that technology would free up parents to spend more time with their families and on their hobbies.
While employers may be basking in the added production by parents, the loss comes at the expense of children.
Meal times were the first sacrifice. More children eat alone. Time spent as a family watching television also has been sacrificed with children watching TV alone.
Family social events outside the home also declined.
Lone parents spent an average of one hour more with their children. Perhaps that is because they do not have someone to share time with their children.
It is an interesting study. A minute taken here and there eventually adds up. In just two decades, it now amounts to five working weeks of time away from our children.
How many more minutes will we chisel away from our children in the next decade?

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