Education | Parents spend fewer than three hours with children daily

The results of the Association of Sin Meng’s latest survey indicate that nearly 65 percent of local parents spend fewer than three hours with their children every day, according to a report by Radio Macau.

In May and June 2017, the Macao Polytechnic Institute (IPM) handed out questionnaires in 15 kindergartens and nurseries, and interviewed 1,447 young parents, particularly those aged between 26 and 35 years old.

These young parents typically have one or two children. About 80 percent of interviewees said that they and their spouses had jobs. Most of them said they request days off work because of their children.

Many of the interviewees said they felt that the government is not implementing enough family-friendly policies, and that employers should work with employees to negotiate family holidays.

More than 40 percent of the interviewees said they needed to take care of their own parents and their children. Of this group, more than 50 percent said they had to balance their job with their duties as caregivers.

When asked whether three hours a day are enough for parents to bond with their children, Macau-based psychologist Goreti Lima told the Times that it is not about the duration.

“It is not about the length [of the time] or quality. It is about what parents do and how fully present they are,” explained Goreti, who also believes that “ideally, people have to find a balance between work and leisure, [which has been a concept] in Europe since the 19th century.”

“Negative consequences go for society in general. When there is no balance, it is easier to become weak or stressed.”

When asked about what changes parents could make to spend more time with their children, the psychologist said a greater public sense of social responsibility could contribute to a possible solution.

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