If you worry you are not spending enough time with your children, you can relax. Get a babysitter and go out for the evening. Studies show that it is quality, not quantity, of time that makes children thrive.
A study last week on BMJ Open showed that the amount of time fathers spend with children is also less important than how much they enjoyed parenting. Fathers who interact more with their children in the first few months after birth could have a positive impact on their baby’s cognitive development.
Researchers from King’s College London, Imperial College London and Oxford University looked at how fathers interacted with their babies at three months of age and measured the infants’ cognitive development more than a year later.
They found that babies, whose fathers were more engaged and active when playing with them in their initial months, performed better in cognitive tests at two years of age.
Instead of walking away and shaking your head after your child says, “Not now, Dad,” simply respond with “Okay, let’s make a specific date for another time. What do you think might be fun? When would you like to do it?”
So don’t waste time blaming yourself for what you have or have not done with your children to this point. It is understandable that, to the extent you have not built a closer relationship with your child, you will feel more alienated and, perhaps, helpless now. The good news is that it is not too late.