by michael on May 12, 2011

This morning I received an email containing Rebecca Hagelin’s Culture Challenge of the Week titled Out of Shape Kids

Hagelin writes:

“What do children need most from their parents? Love, time, and direction.

“A recent New York Times article highlights the decline of family togetherness. Many families now spend most of their leisure time “plugged-in” — to separate channels, websites, or play lists — even when they are together. It’s a trend that not only deprives our children of meaningful time and guidance, but also worsens their health.

“More children than ever suffer from weight problems, plus the host of emotional and physical issues as a result of those weight problems. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 18% of teenagers weigh-in as obese — not just overweight. The statistics are even more disturbing for younger children. A full 20% of children ages six to 12 are obese.”

Here are the title of and the link to the NYT article cited by Hagelin: Family Time Means Togetherness: Unplug to make the most of together-time opportunities, by Thomas Litchford, Navy spouse
Here are a few key paragraphs:

“Redefining Quality TimeWhat are we really talking about when we talk about quality time (QT)? At its most basic, QT is simply about spending undistracted time with your family. It doesn’t have to be super-stimulating or creatively productive; you just have to put down the Blackberry, log-off of Facebook and turn off the TV.
In a New York Times article, “The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In,” by Julie Scelfo, Dr. Sherry Turkle is quoted to say, “Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity and during sports events.”

A Proposed Name ChangeAnd so I propose we adopt a new term: “unplugged time.” The great thing about unplugged time is that it can happen anywhere: in the kitchen while you’re making dinner, in the car on the way to the hardware store. It doesn’t have to be “special” time — in fact, the more normal the setting, the better. It alleviates the pressure to engage in really meaningful character-building activities

In his essay “The Myth of ‘Quality Time,’ ” family therapist Terry Real writes, “There’s a world of difference between chatting with your kids and making an appointment for ice cream and asking, ‘So … how are you doing?’ That’s not talking to a kid, that’s talking to an adult.”
Citing an on line program, Hagelin references one recommendation for enhancing family unity and time:

“How to Save Your Family: Enjoy Fun and Fitness Together

This month launches a new, fantastic initiative — the “Together Counts” movement. It aims to bring families together, all across the country, towards a common goal: healthier living. Its method is simple: families make a practical commitment to eat a specific number of meals together each week and to spend a similar amount of time in physical activity together. Balance is the byword — time spent in physical activity together balances out the time spent eating together.

Calories in. Calories out.

This wonderful program (free, and online at offers an effective way for parents to model healthy living, and guide their children towards good food choices. More importantly, by purposely creating family time, it builds stronger family relationships as well as stronger bodies.”

Seems like a great idea to me. It will be worth your while to read the links in full.
More later

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