Washington Most parents say it's important to spend quality time with their children, but many find themselves coming up short, says a study released Wednesday by youth service organizations.
Almost all of the parents and caregivers involved in the study, 94 percent, said they saw a relationship between the amount of meaningful time adults spend with children and the way children deal with such major issues as substance abuse and discipline.
Still, finding time to discuss such issues is difficult for many parents, according to the survey conducted for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit group KidsPeace.
The study found 54 percent of respondents said they had little or no time, or wished they had more time, to spend in physical activities with their children, such as taking a walk or playing catch.
Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard psychiatrist who helped oversee the study, said approximately 3.5 million households -- representing 7 million youngsters -- spend an hour or less a week in some type of physical activity with their children.
The primary obstacle parents cited was their work schedules.
C.T. O'Donnell, the president and CEO of KidsPeace, said the most important thing a parent can do is to be aware of the situation, recognize a child's need and find a way to act on it.
"They can listen to their children. They can talk, not to their children, they can talk with their children. They can take walks in park. They can spend meaningful, interactive reading time with their kids," O'Donnell said.
Among other findings:
l Half of all parents either don't have enough time or wished they had more time to read to their children or help with their homework or other educational activities.
l Parents reported that more than half of their children -- 56 percent -- were worried about war and terrorism. But more than one-third had not talked with their children about the issues in the past year.
l About half the parents and caregivers haven't talked to their children in the past year about sexual pressures or sexual activity.
The groups are urging parents nationwide to take part in National KidsDay events in more than 1,000 cities on Sunday. They've also created a yearly checkup parents can take online to measure the amount and quality of time they spend with their children.
The study analyzed responses from 1,000 parents or caregivers with children under 18 living at home. It was conducted the first week of June, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.