Less Time With the Kids

Less Time With the Kids
***
The People
March 11, 1995

BY LINDA FEATHERINGILL

An increase in exploitation on the job, whether in the form of lower real wages and in greater workloads, hurts workers immediately and directly. But the workers themselves aren't the only ones who feel the increased pressure. Their families are also affected.

Investigators at Rand, a research institute, recently reported that parents are spending less time with their children. In "average" households in their study -- with two parents, two jobs and a total income of $43,000 -- the parents spent only seven hours a week with the children. This finding is disturbing, but even more disturbing is the fact that this statistic applies to parents of infants too. Sixty percent of babies under six months of age don't see either of their parents during most of the day on most days. In a similar survey done in 1960, parents were found to spend over 20 hours a week with their children. Since then, contact between parents and children has declined by two-thirds.

The decline in parent-child contact is a direct result of decreasing real wages and increasing workloads. Lower wages have forced parents into a position where at least two, and sometimes three, jobs are necessary to meet the needs of a family. Greater workloads take larger amounts of time and energy from workers. The result is that both parents have to be away from home, often for long periods of time, and have little of either time or energy left to give to their children.

Our children are being cheated and robbed. They are being deprived of the companionship of their parents, of guidance from their family, of consistency in their lives and perhaps even of childhood itself. They may also be deprived of their happiness in the future, as we don't know how the rest of their lives are being affected. We do know that our children are being harmed now and possibly in the future by an economic system that runs on profits exploited from workers. We know that the degree of harm is growing as exploitation is increased to make up for shrinking profit margins. And we can predict that this harm will continue as long as we live under capitalism.