I don't remember my parents ever going out on dates, per se, when I was growing up. I do remember they spent a lot of time together, and with me and my sister. Even now in my late 40's, one of their greatest joys is when I visit, or when I take my children and we all gather at their home. As a matter of fact, we're in the process of moving houses so we can live within walking distance of my parents.
I'm an Iraqi immigrant; our marriage/family culture is so different from American marriage and family life that my family went through a dramatic culture shock when we came to America in the late 1970s. I was convinced that to be a well-assimilated and integrated American woman, I had to reject everything about my Iraqi-Christian culture. I've said before that I found assimilation to be more of a revolution than an adaptation. In some sense, I had to “revolt” against who I was before in order to enter into a new social order. It took me many years to understand and to practice well the art of bringing two cultures together within myself—and eventually in my family life.
In a recent article here at the Institute for Family Studies, Alysse ElHage compared the shared time of parents in the U.S. with parents in Spain and France. It was not surprising to me that parents in France and Spain spent more time per day with their partners than their U.S. counterparts. The study also found that the way parents spend time together is not strictly bound by work hours. Rather, it had more to do with the parenting norms of the studied cultures. This makes sense. Even after we came to America and our life became different—my parents worked longer hours per day and we had no extended family to care for us children—overall, we still spent more time together as a family than most American families. If there was one exception it would be those families who had a stay-at-home mom.
Read the rest of the article at the Institute for Family Studies