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Health & Parenting

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Kids Really Aren't Overscheduled

5 Hours a Week Is the Average for Organized Activities

The Overscheduled Parent

Another child development researcher says that among affluent youth especially, the overscheduling of parents may be the bigger threat to child development.

"Perhaps more so than the children, it is the parents who are overextended, with ongoing conflicts regarding their life roles," Suniya S. Luthar, PhD, of Columbia University Teachers College, writes.

"On the one hand is the deep-seated desire to be the best possible parent for their children. On the other hand, there can be powerful draws from work." Luthar says.

Luthar tells WebMD her research suggests affluent, highly educated, overextended moms are under tremendous pressure to do it all. She says most women who balance motherhood and high-stress careers end up frustrated.

"We shouldn't have to choose between our children and our careers, but that is a choice that society forces us to make," she says.

"The system doesn't encourage parental leave, and it gets worse the higher up the ladder you go. Flextime and job sharing aren't options for CEOs of major corporations," Luthar adds.

Rather than discouraging kids from participating in organized activities, we should be exploring ways to engage the large number of children and teens who don't participate, Mahoney says. That means making organized activities affordable and accessible to everyone.

"Transportation is a big problem for many families, especially when both parents work," he tells WebMD. "If these activities were affordable, and reliable and safe transportation was provided, that would cut down enormously on the stresses that many parents feel," says Mahoney.

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