Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When money matters

Like most parents, I try to do activities with my son that do not cost lots of money. I'll get him to go on a bike ride with me instead of taking him to the bouncy house. He'll play guitar with his Daddy at home, rather than go to a music instructor. We play a lot of board games.

But then, there are times that I do spend the money on activities for him, like signing him up for soccer at his school. We aren't a sports-oriented family and its a good way for our son to learn team play. And we are really fortunate that we are able to pay for that additional activity without negatively impacting the family budget.

But a lot of families aren't able to pay for those additional activities for their children. And that makes a big difference.

The Council on Contemporary Families released its latest study reviewing family practices between children raised by two parents and those raised in a single-parent household. The study found negligible differences across family types (single or two-parents) in the areas of reading together, monitoring television viewing or taking meals together.

The main area of difference was around extracurricular activities. Children of single parents or those who had living arrangements with two sets of married parents had "lower participation in the extracurricular activities that have been shown to contribute to better grades in high school and increased college enrollment." For more on the increased importance of extracurricular activities, check out this article from The Atlantic.

The study theorizes that the children who do not participate in those activities are often also living below the poverty line and their parents are unable to afford the fees or do not have control over their working schedule to transport children to activities. 

There are a lot of takeaways from this report, but the main one for me was that parents are trying their best to give their children what they need.

What are some no cost activities that you enjoy doing with your children? Share with me in the comments.

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