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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Isn’t It About…[Quality] Time? » Isn’t It About…[Quality] Time?

Isn’t It About…[Quality] Time?

Rusty - December 1, 2006

DKL has an interesting post about work in which he disagrees with David O McKay’s famous quote “no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” The subsequent comments have made me think again about the concept of “quality time” and my feelings on the matter.

I think it’s a crock.

I don’t have kids, but I’ve been a kid and I’m pretty sure the oft-bandied term “quality time with the kids” is a load of crap. I imagine it was some businessman who came up with it to justify his late nights at the office. He probably sold products that emphasize “quality over quantity” and decided that because it makes sense with books, suits and cheese, it must also apply to time with his kids.

As cheesy as is the Church’s TV commercial slogan “Isn’t it about…time?”, it appears to be true. All time is quality time. You can’t say that time spent playing catch will be more important to the kid than time spent making him do chores. Just because he may enjoy playing catch more than being told to do chores it doesn’t mean that it is better for his relationship with his father.

I don’t know the answer to the working father (or working mother). Follow the Spirit I guess. But please don’t ever say, “I gotta get home to spend some quality time with my kids.” ever, ever again. They’re not a 10-year aged Carr Valley Cheddar, so don’t treat them like one (you know, by neglecting them for ten years and then eating them).


  1. Rusty, I would think that not all time is quality time. Let’s say you’re a dad who goes into his room when at home and doesn’t come out and the kids just end up watching TV, well, even though you’re at home “with your kids” and not at work, then it’s not quality time. But I don’t think that’s exactly where you’re going with this, and I actually agree with the larger point. Time spent out in the yard forcing your kid to do some yardwork is also beneficial — it doesn’t always have to be going to amusement parks or playing catch. Time is time. The key is to actually spend it with the children, and where possible in an interactive setting, i.e. other than watching TV. When TVs get put in each person’s individual bedrooms, that is a bad sign, in my opinion. It takes the last possible activity that people do together — watching TV, an activity that requires no interaction or investment in a relationship — and sequesters even that from the group.

    Comment by john f. — December 1, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

  2. Hear, hear.

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — December 1, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  3. John, I think my point is that time together is quality time. It doesn’t have to always be enjoyable for either party for it to be quality. In fact, I think some of the most important times with my parents (in my adolescent life) were not enjoyable.

    On the other hand, you seem to be averse to the TV and that’s fine, but some of my great childhood memories are sitting on the couch with my dad watching football with nary a word said between us.

    Comment by Rusty — December 1, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  4. Rusty, how absurd. I am not adverse to the TV. Sorry to have conveyed that message.

    Comment by john f. — December 1, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  5. LOL! John, I think we’re saying pretty much the same thing, just talking past each other a tiny bit.

    Comment by Rusty — December 1, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  6. Too many parents overvalue time with their children not realising that a little mom and dad goes a long way. Parents should not be their children’s best friends– our primary function is to turn children into positively contributing members of a society. Research has shown that by the time children are four or five parents have nearly exhausted their influence on their children’s lives. From that point on raising children is like the sport of curling with the child playing the role of the stone and the parents serving as the sweepers.

    Quality time refers not so much to the virtues associated with the activities in which child and parent engage, but rather the marginal value of that time to the child. Speaking from experience, the first minute I spend with my children doing any activity is quite valuable and high quality. However, after an hour I know that no matter what we’re doing my 10-year-old and 8-year-old are probably starting to get sick of their old man and consequently the value of each additional minute begins to rapidly decline in value. Those additional minutes would not be considered quality time no matter what we were doing.

    Quality time is not a crock! You just haven’t figured out how to measure it.

    Comment by endlessnegotiation — December 1, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

  7. Research suggests that quality of contact (e.g., direct, nurturing physical contact) is more important for babies, and quantity is more important for children. A lot of this is due to differences in perception between what is “quality time” between children and adults.

    Comment by Kurt — December 1, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

  8. Thanks Rusty, I still have quality time with Bret watching sports on TV and Bryce and Bret watching movies.

    If we fathers just spent more time with their children some of it would end up being quality time, even if it is accidental. Lots of quantity will end up being some quality!

    Trouble is if the quantity is low it’s quite possible none of it will be quality.

    You need quantity to understand the child, to know them, about them and how to relate to them individually. Quality time to me seems to force the issue…like since it’s limited I have to do something special that the child likes or wants. If that’s what my relationship with him is based on he and I are both in deep trouble.

    Excuse me, I have to leave now and watch a basketball game with Bret….I wish quality time with my wife was this easy!!

    Comment by Don Clifton — December 1, 2006 @ 3:23 pm

  9. When I was working fulltime and my husband was home with the kids (he was going to school fulltime), I had regular mommy-dates with the kids. Every weekend I’d take a different one out for whatever they wanted to do (usually it was a movie, one kid always just wanted to go to Burger King). They loved the one-on-one time with Mom.

    Comment by Susan M — December 1, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

  10. I work at home. I find myself sharing my life with my two daughters and my wife.

    Whether it’s a quality life or not, it’s my life, and that’s all I got to offer.

    New baby has us a bit worn out though, so we’re all a bit on edge.

    But that’s life!

    Comment by Seth R. — December 1, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  11. Well put, Rusty. I’m with your 100% on this one.

    Comment by DKL — December 1, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  12. Since I’m a SAHM I get to offer a lot of quantity time. Am I reading and playing games with my kids all day long? No. Do I stop what I’m doing everytime they need something? No.
    But in the large quantities of time, I get to have quality time. I hears about what happens at school. I read with them. I discuss the gospel. I play. I teach about geography. I tell them to do chores.
    The less quantity of time, the less opportunity for quality time. You can try to schedule quality time, but so much of it comes spontaneously when you are around when they make a poor choice, or ask a question, or watch you interact with others, or while you are hanging out having fun, or having dinner and the toddler does something funny. Quantity time means there is enough time to prod kids into doing chores and homework and practicing the piano, but also enough time to go to library just for fun.
    I also love to take my kids out on on a Mommy daughter or son date. It is fun. It makes them feel special, but I’m also glad for the tremendous quantity time I get to have. The kids know that I’m around and I think that is important in itself.

    Comment by JKS — December 1, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

  13. I just stumbled across this and agree wholeheartedly! An aunt-in-law (who had eight kids and always stayed home with them) once corrected me when I lamented the lack of quality time spent with my kids, who stay home with me. She echoed the sentiment that even if she was sitting in a chair, reading a book, and they were playing at her feet, it mattered. When I shared this with my mother (who worked full-time and had little time to share with us as kids), she scoffed, saying a trip to Disneyland made up for a lot of lost time. How sad.

    Comment by hhh — January 1, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

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