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Does the quantity of time spent with parents impact kids?

When you and your spouse are splitting up and working on a parenting plan, your focus may be on ensuring that you have an equal amount of time with the kids. You're worried about the quantity of time you spend with them, and you're concerned that spending too little will negatively impact their development.

Interestingly, studies don't always support this. One found that the quality of the time mattered a lot more than the quantity in terms of how it impacted the children's development.

For example, when children spent time reading with their parents or eating family meals, that did help them in various ways -- emotionally and mentally. However, the sheer amount of time didn't always tie in. A child who had 15 hours with a parent, without quality time, was no better off than a child who spent one hour of quality time.

Researchers did note that quality and quantity can be linked. Everything you do with your child won't be high-quality time; that's just not realistic. As such, a higher quantity of time may increase the odds that a parent will be with the child for those key high-quality moments.

So, while there is a link, it's wise for parents to think about what they're doing, not just how many hours they get. A weekend of time actively spent with the child may be better than a week spent living in the same home but just watching television and generally not interacting.

As you and your ex work to create a parenting plan that helps the kids the most, remember to always focus on their best interests, their rights and how your legal rights -- and your ex's -- connect with them. At all times, your children should be the main focus.

Source: Washington Post, "Does parent time matter for kids? Your questions answered," Brigid Schulte, accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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