Some people believe that children should spend all of their free time with their families. Others believe that this is unnecessary or even negative. Discuss the possible arguments on both sides, and say which side you personally support.

Nobody can deny that parental influence is important for children, at least in cases where children live with their parents, foster parents or guardians. However, it is by no means clear that children should spend time exclusively in the family, as we will see. On the one hand, it may appear advisable for parents to act as role models and to establish ground rules for behaviour by spending as much time as possible with their children. This allows the youngsters to absorb conventions and codes of conduct which they can then follow themselves, hopefully leading to an absence of problems such as bullying, truancy and delinquency later on. Furthermore, being with the family should reduce the risk of children falling victim to crimes such as abduction, or coming under the influence of negative peer pressure. On the other hand, we have to ask whether this is a practical proposition. In a society where many families are dual-income, or where one parent’s role as breadwinner means he/she is away from the family for long periods, it is inevitable that children cannot spend all of their time with the family. Child-minding and after-school childcare are often used in these cases, and if managed properly, these can be perfectly viable alternatives. Equally, it seems that children can in some cases learn a considerable amount from their peers in addition to adults, and allowing them to play without direct supervision may be a benefit. To conclude, it appears that, while family time is essential for bonding and absorbing patterns of behaviour, there are definite advantages when children are outside the family too. This is provided that they are in a safe, well-behaved environment with peers who are themselves reasonably well brought-up.
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