What does quality time really mean? And what do the studies show about how to get that time and how much our kids really need. The answers may surprise you! Listen to this episode to learn about research done that may change the way you look at time with your kids.
Parents these days are busy!
With work, school functions, sports, activities and more, it is hard to find a balance.
Parents want to spend quality time with their children, but find it hard to do.
What is Quality Time?
Quality time is not necessarily the big stuff, like vacations and routines.
This 2007 study says "everyday activities like household chores or running errands may afford families quality moments, unplanned, instructed instances of social interaction" that build relationships.
Instead, quality relationships are really built around the small moments, as illustrated so beautifully in this poem by Seamus Heaney.
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
A study be Melissa Milkie at the University of Toronto says that the amount of time skids spend with parents from age 3-11 had no measurable impact on their emotional well being, behavior or academic success.
Time with mothers in adolescent does impact behaviors, however.
This story from Gordon B. Hinckley shows how these ideas in the study work together.
Not long after we were married, we built our first home. We had very little money. I did much of the work myself. It would be called “sweat equity” today. The landscaping was entirely my responsibility. The first of many trees that I planted was a thornless honey locust. Envisioning the day when its filtered shade would assist in cooling the house in the summertime, I put it in a place at the corner where the wind from the canyon to the east blew the hardest. I dug a hole, put in the bare root, put soil around it, poured on water, and largely forgot it. It was only a wisp of a tree, perhaps three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It was so supple that I could bend it with ease in any direction. I paid little attention to it as the years passed.
Then one winter day, when the tree was barren of leaves, I chanced to look out the window at it. I noticed that it was leaning to the west, misshapen and out of balance. I could scarcely believe it. I went out and braced myself against it as if to push it upright. But the trunk was now nearly a foot in diameter. My strength was as nothing against it. I took from my toolshed a block and tackle.
Attaching one end to the tree and another to a well-set post, I pulled the rope. The pulleys moved a little, and the trunk of the tree trembled slightly. But that was all. It seemed to say, “You can’t straighten me. It’s too late. I’ve grown this way because of your neglect, and I will not bend.”
Finally in desperation I took my saw and cut off the great heavy branch on the west side. The saw left an ugly scar, more than eight inches across. I stepped back and surveyed what I had done. I had cut off the major part of the tree, leaving only one branch growing skyward.
More than half a century has passed since I planted that tree. My daughter and her family live there now. The other day I looked again at the tree. It is large. Its shape is better. It is a great asset to the home. But how serious was the trauma of its youth and how brutal the treatment I used to straighten it.
When it was first planted, a piece of string would have held it in place against the forces of the wind. I could have and should have supplied that string with ever so little effort. But I did not, and it bent to the forces that came against it.
I have seen a similar thing, many times, in children whose lives I have observed. The parents who brought them into the world seem almost to have abdicated their responsibility. The results have been tragic. A few simple anchors would have given them the strength to withstand the forces that have shaped their lives. Now it appears it is too late.
Children are like trees. When they are young, their lives can be shaped and directed, usually without much difficulty. Said the writer of Proverbs, "Train up a child the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
It's not the big things; it's the small things.
It doesn't matter the quantity of time- stop beating yourself up and enjoy time with your kids.
You are raising and shaping now. Take the time to build the relationship when they are little.