Listen to the Children
By Bryan Caplan
Here’s a deeply important passage from my favorite survey of the time diary literature:
One of Galinsky’s more surprising findings centered around a question she posed to both children and parents: “If you were granted one wish to change the way your mother’s/your father’s work affects your life, what would that wish be?” Some 56 percent of parents anticipated that their children would want more time with their parents and for their parents to spend less time at work, yet only 10 percent of the children actually wanted more time with their mothers and only 16 percent wanted more time with their fathers. A far larger proportion, 34 percent, wished that their mothers would be less stressed and less tired, and 28 percent wished this about their fathers.
My interpretation: Spending time with our kids has become a chore because we’re doing so much of it. Even if you put on a fake smile, your kid can sense if you’re not really happy to be with him.
The upshot: If you really don’t want to do something with your kid, think twice about doing it. If you’re going to be a grump about it, he’d probably prefer not to do it either. It might sound like a convenient rationalization, but it’s true.