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Are our children time poor?

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Following on from Unicef's report four years ago, which showed British children to be way down the league table in terms of wellbeing, they are now looking at specific problems.

In the news today it's highlighted that children are given toys and clothes by their parents instead of their time. In countries such as Spain and Sweden, where family time is viewed as more important and addressed within social policy, the children appear to fare better. Parents in these countries are also felt to more ably resist the appeal of consumerism.

"The report argues that the pressure of the working environment and rampant materialism combine to damage the well-being of our children. They want our attention but we give them our money."

The massive inequality in Britain is particularly problematic as lower income families struggle to work as much as possible so that they can buy their children expensive computer games and, therefore, they have even less time to spend with the kids. Or they are tired out trying to cope.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14899148

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Following on from Unicef's report four years ago, which showed British children to be way down the league table in terms of wellbeing, they are now looking at specific problems.

In the news today it's highlighted that children are given toys and clothes by their parents instead of their time. In countries such as Spain and Sweden, where family time is viewed as more important and addressed within social policy, the children appear to fare better. Parents in these countries are also felt to more ably resist the appeal of consumerism.

"The report argues that the pressure of the working environment and rampant materialism combine to damage the well-being of our children. They want our attention but we give them our money."

The massive inequality in Britain is particularly problematic as lower income families struggle to work as much as possible so that they can buy their children expensive computer games and, therefore, they have even less time to spend with the kids. Or they are tired out trying to cope.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14899148

The family unit in the UK is in smithereens and the government have little interest in social policy. Their focus appears mainly to be on economic policy or so far as Downing Street is concerned pushing a right wing ideology.

It is very difficult for lone parents to work, organise suitable childcare and spent a lot of quality time with their children. The government should offer affordable childcare and that alone would solve many problems. If they coupled it with parent and children activities this would go even further.

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The family unit in the UK is in smithereens and the government have little interest in social policy. Their focus appears mainly to be on economic policy or so far as Downing Street is concerned pushing a right wing ideology.

It is very difficult for lone parents to work, organise suitable childcare and spent a lot of quality time with their children. The government should offer affordable childcare and that alone would solve many problems. If they coupled it with parent and children activities this would go even further.

I think you're right, rory, sadly the situation just looks set to get worse with rising unemployment and cutbacks in benefits.

Save the Children Fund produced research earlier this year showing that 1.6m youngsters children in the UK live in "severe poverty". They describe this as a "national scandal" and expect the number of children in households without basics will rise unless action is taken.

We simply don't see this action being taken. In Scotland and Northern Ireland 9% of children live in severe poverty but the figure rises to 12% in England and 13% in Wales.

The study also shows major contrasts in the scale of the problem between different locations. For example in Glasgow 18% of children live in severe poverty, in East Dunbartonshire the figure drops to 6%.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/feb/23/child-poverty-britain-map

I think your idea of parent and child activities is great and it is encouraged by some schools which organise activities such as weekly parents and childrens' exercise classes.

However, there is no major social policy in evidence aimed at addressing the problems being faced - I agree that affordable childcare would go a long way to addressing some of the problems. However, there are many problems in deprived neighbourhoods including high levels of lone parents, high levels of crime plus extensive health and addiction problems.

Where's the social policy here? Many of the public sector workers who play a key role in the lives of the most vulnerable are not going to be around. Things are certainly getting worse and Mr Cameron is convincing no-one that his government is caring for the most vulnerable.

The mistake is that he and other politicians don't see that their population and the young people are the future.

Maybe the riots will help bring home the extent of the problem with disillusioned youth, many living in dysfunctional homes and extreme poverty.

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I think we need to take a wee step back and define severe poverty. In the UK severe poverty is a helluva different thing from severe poverty in certain emerging economies.

With regard to time poverty with our children - that is surely a factor of our obsession with goods and chattels and the need to earn money to buy more unnecessary goods and chattels. Perversely, unemployment should help that situation, freeing up time for parents to spend with their children and probably offering those parents an opportunity to re-evaluate their lives.

That being said, those of us who remain in employment will continue to feel guilty that we do not have all of the time we should for our kids. I find it hypocritical in the extreme to listen to the morons in HR departments spouting about work/life balance while at the same time that same employer eats into ever more of your day with overloaded workloads and 'imaginary' deadlines.

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You make a lot of interesting points in your post, samsc.

I think we need to take a wee step back and define severe poverty. In the UK severe poverty is a helluva different thing from severe poverty in certain emerging economies.

Compared to many places many of our poorest families would be considered well off, samsc.

"The government's surveys defines severe poverty as a household with half the average income - for a family of four this would be pay of less than £12,500 - but also suffers from material deprivation. For example, this would mean children were unable to take a holiday or invite friends home for tea and adults were not able to pay for repairs to fridges or afford insurance."

With regard to time poverty with our children - that is surely a factor of our obsession with goods and chattels and the need to earn money to buy more unnecessary goods and chattels. Perversely, unemployment should help that situation, freeing up time for parents to spend with their children and probably offering those parents an opportunity to re-evaluate their lives.

It's a mindset, samsc. Also something to do with how you've been brought up yourself. I still begrudge handing over a fortune for a day out at the pictures, not so much the tickets but I've long ago given up on buying the overpriced instore drinks and popcorn.

We've had a brilliant time during the school holidays going fishing, long hikes, barbecues at the allotment and to free events such as Tall Ships at Greenock. Although the last would be prohibitive to some taking a few kids by train from Glasgow because train fares are extortionate.

However, I'm not down to my last buck and worried sick about where the next mortgage payment is coming from. I think it is hard to be upbeat and imaginative when times are hard. More marriages break up over money problems than any other reason. (I've made that up but I think I could be right). :rolleyes:

That being said, those of us who remain in employment will continue to feel guilty that we do not have all of the time we should for our kids. I find it hypocritical in the extreme to listen to the morons in HR departments spouting about work/life balance while at the same time that same employer eats into ever more of your day with overloaded workloads and 'imaginary' deadlines.

Well said, but what also irritates me are the people with the halos who 'work every hour god sends'.

Maybe more four day weeks, work based childcare provision, early stop for employees with children at primary school, out of school holiday programmes and a whole lot more. The government have a role to play in changing the culture so that there is greater focus on children.

There are lessons to be learned from Sweden and Spain. For many of our weans the only family eating out experience they ever know is the odd Mcdonalds.

When I was a student for six years on the trot we had no television and I went everywhere on my bicycle to save money on fares. We were forced into seeking alternative entertainment but at that time children did not have the same expectations. Nowadays kids with parents or a parent on the lowest income bracket are taking their Blackberries to school. There is a mountain to climb.

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I think we did have expectations, Pat. They were just different. You couldn't expect DVDs and Wii's (or whatever they are called) when there was no such thing.

But thinking back to my childhood we seemed to have a lot of great games that used up energy and the schools should be making an effort to resurrect some of them. It would be easy to teach kids the pleasure to be found in playing skipping ropes and peever and the like. I like the idea of having mixed activities for parents and children. The schools should be used more out of hours for these sorts of activities. There used to be a lot more going on when there were Community Education Workers with different clubs running in the local Community Centres.

But they're public sector workers so guess there's no much chance of seeing more of them around.

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