I was shocked to see a recent news item reporting a new initiative which is being launched to encourages parents to spend fifteen minutes a day with their children. Yes, you heard me right – fifteen minutes. Just fifteen.
The initiative is labelled ‘Fast’ parenting (which alone makes my blood boil) and is being promoted by BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth who experienced the US-based concept while filming for a new BBC documentary ‘Parents Under Pressure’. ‘Fast’ is the acronym for ‘Families and Schools Together’ and the idea behind the concept is to encourage parents to spend 15 minutes of quality time with their children each day in order to improve their child’s behaviour. By ‘quality’ time the idea suggests that all forms of mobile and social media communication are switched off; no email, no internet, no iPhone, no Twitter or Facebook. This lasts for 8 weeks and then the family moves onto the next stage of the programme; eating family meals together and family play.
I know we live in an increasingly busy world and that parents are juggling careers and family life but surely, surely, the bar could have been raised a bit higher. How about 60 minutes? Would that be such a dreadful sacrifice? In my experience, people are very quick to adopt these ‘celebrity’ endorsed programmes and before you know it, parents will be feeling delighted with themselves if they’ve achieved the requisite fifteen minutes and will return to their laptops and iPhones guilt-free for the rest of the day.
I, for one, think this is a terrible idea and entirely the wrong message to be sending to busy parents. But maybe I’m being over-sentimental. Maybe this is an accurate reflection of the family values we have in modern society. I really don’t know, but I’m pretty depressed just thinking about it.