Quality time is a crock.

Chatting to a friend recently, the subject turned to parenting and the whole ‘quality’ time thing. As parents we are constantly bombarded with ‘should’s’ and ‘shouldn’t’s’. Society is more than happy to make us feel guilty at every turn – as if parenting weren’t hard enough by itself!

One thing I have never bought into is this idea of ‘quality’ time. What the heck is that, anyway? What does it really mean?

Ask yourself – when you’ve specifically set out to ‘spend quality time’ with the kids eg take them to the zoo and the day turns to mush, compared to the time when everyone gathered in the kitchen, got their hands into the biscuit dough, sang and danced and just generally enjoyed each others company. Which one was quality time?

I think ‘quality’ time is born out of guilt and that’s half the reason it often turns sour, our motivation is wrong.

If you’ve read this blog often, you’ll know I’m all about intentionality in our relationships, so I am in no way suggesting we should stop putting effort into our relationships with our children. What I am suggesting is that it needs to be in perspective.

I’ve seen many parents get so caught up in giving their kids ‘quality’ time that they wear themselves out. Giving our kids quality time can so easily turn into us feeling so guilty that we forfeit our own right to hobbies or relaxation and spend every spare second with our kids.

And the children in these families, more often than not, are demanding, whinging, and spoilt.

While we are so busy giving quality time, we forget that we are teaching them, and often, all that quality time is teaching them is that parents are there to cater to their every whim and want, without them having to take into account another persons feelings.

It doesn’t hurt our kids if we say we are too tired to play a game. It doesn’t hurt them to have to ‘find something to do’ that doesn’t involve us. And here’s the real kicker – it doesn’t hurt our kids to be bored occasionally. It’s actually good for them. Being bored can trigger creativity, imagination and self-reliance. We are doing them a favour by allowing them to be bored.

Oh sure, as parents we have to suffer through some initial whining but if we can push through that and remain resolute, we will find our kids under the table building a cubby, pulling out old toys they haven’t used in months, drawing and writing stories, reading a book, sitting quietly – thinking!, or *shock, horror, gasp* playing with their siblings.

And it also doesn’t hurt to teach our kids that we matter as human beings, too. That there is more to us than being a mum or dad, that we have interests, hobbies and a ‘life’ outside of them.

Do your kids a favour and don’t get sucked into the lie that they want ‘quality’ time. Trust me, your kids will thank you one day.

4 thoughts on “Quality time is a crock.

  1. Kids and grandkids, too. Just because I tell Wayne and Shawn “No” once in a while doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Just because I am forcing them to do something they must do (chores, put their shoes away, dishes in the dishwasher), doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Just because they whine at me and I tell them to knock it off, don’t want to hear it, doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Agree with you on the self-reliance. We have built the best forts out of blankets and sheets, and the greatest art out of construction paper and crayons. I am sure grateful they get along so well as sibs, even though there is a wrestling bloody nose once in a while. I’m feeling no guilt right now catching up on my email and blog subscriptions while they play their hour of video games.

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    • Absolutely, Karen! And I think it’s also a trap many grandparents fall into, usually due to feeling guilty about their parenting all those years ago. Glad to see you haven’t fallen into that 🙂

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  2. So true about allowing them time to be bored. I think the media (Wii, computer etc.) is a crutch. The moment they have nothing to do they resort to it (as I do at times). We have time limits on media in our house and then after the initial cries of ‘I’m boooored’, you’re right, they find things to do and usually have a lot of fun together.

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    • Yes, anything ‘electronic’ does not qualify in my eyes as ‘finding something to do’. Time on the computer or Wii is not allowed to be the default activity when bored!

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