What Kids Say About: Parents

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What Kids Say About: Parents

Oh, parents! They've known you since you were in diapers and someday your kids will call them Grandma and Grandpa. But what about now? KidsHealth wanted to know how kids felt about mom and dad, so we asked a big group of boys and girls a bunch of questions.

Here's what 855 kids, ages 9 to 13, had to say:

  • Most kids said their parents love them — big time. Nearly 90% of kids said their mom loves them a lot.
  • Far fewer kids — only 8% — said their mom only loved them some and 4% said their mom loved them a little or not at all.
  • When it came to dads, nearly 90% of kids said their dad loved them a lot.
  • Again, fewer kids (8%) said their dads loved them only some and another 8% said their dads loved them a little or not at all.

Too Many Questions?

So most kids feel the love from mom and dad. But here's the not-so-good news: More than half of the kids said their parents ask too many questions about what's going on in their lives. As in, "How was your day at school?" or "Did you do well at practice today?" or "Do you have a boyfriend (or girlfriend), sweetie?"

About one-third of kids said their parents ask them just the right number of questions and 17% said they wish their parents would ask them more about what's going on in their lives.

We're pretty sure that all kids like the fact that their parents love them and are interested in their lives. So why did so many kids say they don't like the questions? One reason is that kids between ages 9 and 13 start to share this kind of stuff with friends, so they sometimes don't feel as much like talking to their parents about it.

Parents often say their kids give them one-word answers. (The parent asks, "What happened at school, today?" and the kid says, "Nothing.") Do you ever do that?

Spending Time Together

On the bright side for parents, just about all kids did say they enjoy doing stuff with their mom and dad. About 73% said they like doing stuff with both parents, while 12% preferred to spend time with mom only and 9% liked being only with dad.

If your mom or dad is looking for more chances to spend time with you, here are two good ways to do it:

  • family meals
  • events at your school

About half of kids said they have meals with their parents at least once a day. The rest of the kids said they have family meals a few days a week (28%) or hardly ever or never (19%).

Not only are family meals a good way to share healthy food, but they're a chance for parents and kids to talk. While you're passing the celery sticks, it might remind you of a funny story your friend told you about a baseball game, where a dancing celery stick came out every time the team scored a home run. Maybe it will remind someone else of a good dancing vegetable story.

School is another good place for parents and kids to get together. It's kind of fun having your mom or dad show up at school (as long as you're not in the principal's office).

Forty percent of kids said they'd like their parents to be more involved at their school. That could include chaperoning field trips, coaching a sport, volunteering for class events, or being a lunch mom or dad (a parent who helps supervise kids during lunchtime).

When parents come to school, it give them a chance to see what's going on with you. And then they might not need to ask so many basic questions. They'll have seen it for themselves when you score a basket or will know why you like your math teacher. So the next time mom or dad wants to know how things are going for you, tell them to come find out — by visiting you at school!

What's a KidsPoll?

The group that took this KidsPoll included an equal number of boys and girls. They answered the questions on handheld data devices while visiting these health education centers and children's museums:

  • Children's Health Education Center — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Health World Children's Museum — Barrington, Illinois
  • Kansas Learning Center for Health — Halstead, Kansas
  • McMillen Center for Health Education — Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Poe Health Education Center — Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Ruth Lilly Health Education Center — Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Saint Joseph Mercy Health Exploration Station — Canton, Michigan

A poll, like the KidsPoll, asks people a list of questions. Then researchers compile all the answers and look at the way the group answered. They calculate how many — or what percentage — answered "yes" to this question and "no" to that one. Polls give us clues about how most people — not just the ones who answered the poll questions — feel about certain issues.

We'll be conducting more KidsPolls in the future to find out what kids say — maybe you'll be part of one!

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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