Quantity or Quality…which is more important in parenting?
Sat next to a guy on the plane the other day who talked a good game. Our conversation went a bit like this.
“Been out of town since Sunday night. Normally don’t leave til Monday morning, but I scheduled a meeting first thing in Denver,” he said.
“Oh, that’s tough, ” I replied, half-heartedly.
“Yeah, I’m gone about three, maybe four nights most every week.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s a lot of travel.”
He looked surprised.
“It’s not too bad. My wife understands and my kids, well…we make up for it on the weekend. You know, big stuff, Chuckie Cheese, the movies, out to dinner. Making up for the week.”
At which point I weakly smiled, and grabbed the paper.
And thought, “man you got it all wrong.”
(look out, here comes the soapbox…)
If I have learned anything in 15 years of being a dad, it is that the whole idea of “quality time” is a cop out….It really is. Guys who choose to do something else with their time (golf, hanging out with the guys, too much travel, too much of anything really…) often default to the “Well I don’t spend as much time with my kids as I would like but the time we have together…well boy oh boy that sure is ‘quality time.'”
And the phrase “quality time” is usually code for “I’m going to try and do something big with my kids so hopefully they will not notice that I have not been around. So if I spring for a trip to DisneyWorld, or ice cream twice on a Saturday, or a weekend in the batting cage, driving range, or shopping mall” it’s all good.
It’s quality time.
It’s not “Quality time,” it’s “Quantity of Time.”
In fact, I am convinced that there is one simple equation to being a dad.
Time = Love.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the big stuff, the “quality” stuff. And I have tried to do “quality” when I felt like I needed a Hail Mary.
But really, kids measure stuff in time.
“Just five more minutes…”
“Let’s read one more book…”
“Push me way up high again…”
It’s all about time, and the more the better. Kids like the big stuff, but they love the time and attention. I am convinced that with our kids, it is the quantity of time that determines the quality of the relationship.
What are you doing with your kids this weekend?