It’s National Family Week in Britain, only the second celebration of its kind, and the organisers have come up with some interesting poll findings about family life. These include gaps between the expectations of children and parents — with children showing better judgement.

One of the things NFW promotes is family members spending quality time together, but its survey shows that British mums and dads spend on average only 49 minutes a day with their children and each other — hardly enough time to share a meal. That’s in spite of three quarters of parents saying that family is the most important thing in life.

More than two-thirds of the 3000 parents questioned blamed financial pressures for the lack of time together — they are too busy out at work earning money. A significant amount of that would be spent on what parents said was the highest quality family time: days out and holidays. They said quality time was more important than quantity.

Yet two thirds of children (1000 in the survey) said they would choose quality time at home with their parents over an expensive day out.

Spouses were all too ready to blame each other for not devoting enough time to the family: 55 per cent of mothers said the father made too little effort, while 38 per cent of dads accused mothers of the same thing.

(Australian research shows that although dads on average are spending more time with their children — without mum — it still only amounts to 30 minutes a day on weekdays and up to 90 minutes over the weekend. And one-fifth enjoyed it only “sometimes” or less. However, fathers also spend considerably more time with their wife/partner and the children together.)

There was a significant and rather sad gap between UK parents and children over the importance of family integrity. Only 51 per cent of parents agreed that, to have the best opportunities in life, a child needs a father and mother under the same roof, but three quarters of children did. Slightly more children (55 per cent) thought it was important that their parents were married than parents in general did (52 per cent).

The lefty-liberal Independent newspaper took the opportunity to note the “increasing irrelevance” of marriage and the nuclear family. Various experts felt obliged to affirm the “diversity” of family forms.

Family Week co-founder Nick Henry, partly went along with this. The Indy quotes him thus:

“Families remain the cornerstones of our communities and the bedrock of our lives. The modern family is a product of its relationships rather than labels, and families in the UK today come in all shapes and sizes. As the pressures of modern family life increase, our families are still the most important thing to us. So even though the concept of the family appears to be fluid, it’s unlikely that the essential function of the family will change.”

“Appears” — important word, that.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet