Family 'quality time' less than an hour a day

The fabric of British family life is being reduced to stress and "chaos" by lack of time and money worries, experts said in response to a major survey.

With the average family now spending only 49 minutes a day together, almost half the parents questioned admit they do not spend enough "quality time" together as a family. More than one child in five complains of not having enough time with either parent, says the poll commissioned for National Family Week, which starts today.

The study of 4000 parents and children reveals that one in eight families admit to spending no more than two hours together each week. Three out of 10 parents and children say they spend between two and four hours together.

Family meals, watching TV and going out are the most common ways they spend time together. Only one in 10 parents cited reading stories.

More than two-thirds of parents blame money and lack of time. One in five claim that family members do not want to spend time together.

Within a generation the proportion of households with a mother, father and two children has dropped from 52 per cent to 36 per cent, says the latest report from the Office for National Statistics.

More than one in five couples will be in a cohabiting relationship by 2021, while the percentage of children living in a couple relationship fell from 92 per cent in 1972 to 77 per cent in 2008, according to the Family and Parenting Institute.

The cost of family breakdown in Britain is estimated at £41.7 billion ($88.4 billion) a year by the Relationships Foundation thinktank.

"Nuclear families are under pressure: debt, working time and care responsibilities can take their toll," said John Ashcroft, the foundation's research director.

"We believe support for family should be strengthened."

Anne Longfield, chief executive of children's charity 4Children, said the results reflected the "increasingly chaotic and changing lifestyles of families".

- INDEPENDENT

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