Lifestyle

Best-friend parents are driving 'lazy child' pandemic

Jeremy Austin with his children Jake, 11 and Chelsea, 10, who help both their dad and mum with household chores.
Jeremy Austin with his children Jake, 11 and Chelsea, 10, who help both their dad and mum with household chores. Nigel Hallett

A "SLOTHFUL child pandemic" is gripping the nation, made worse by children of divorce splitting their time between parents, according to one of the country's leading child experts.

Quality time spent with each parent can mean kids skip mundane chores for a life of fun and games.

"Some couples are trying so hard to be the popular parent that children are never asked to do anything to help out in the family. Family chore rituals are vital to a child's development," Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said.

"I'm horrified at how little kids are doing in any household, and it is not just in divorce situations."

Queensland has the highest rate of divorce among parents of dependent children in the country at 51.8 per cent.

"Guilt can play a big part in the over-pampering of kids of divorce. One of the worst things any parent can do is try to be the child's best friend. I have never met a 15-year-old who wanted to be friends with their mum," he said.

The psychologist knows parents want to spend quality time with their children when it is their turn but urges split parents to try to normalise life for the child. Make them do the dishes and see life has responsibilities, he said.

Gold Coast dad Jeremy Austin takes care of his children half a week at a time. He knows the dangers of parents pushing to be more popular with kids but agrees with their mum and they work together.

"We both believe in keeping things real with the kids. We try to balance having fun with making sure they do chores and keeping a routine," Mr Austin said.

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