The Myths of Quality Time

Parents conveniently define quality time as per their need. At times it is also exchanged with quantity. Quality time is intention oriented time spend with child not for the child.

Once in Animal Kingdom, the animals met to complain about the humans. The cow said, “They take away my milk!” The sheep cribbed about her wool being taken. The hen was upset that her eggs are taken by humans. The horse complained about humans taking all his energy. But the snail was smiling, “I have something they need, but don’t seem to care about, TIME!”

And this is also something the children need most from their parents, but seldom seem to get right – TIME. If you are planning to give a gift to your child, consider TIME. Believe me that is one they would cherish the most. If you want your child successful, the real investment is not money, not more classes, not more gadgets, not computer, not the best school, not less TV but MORE TIME. Quality Time!

Now, according to me, “Quality Time” is the most common catch word, albeit least understood rather mostly misunderstood. Here we explore myths of quality time. Realizing what it is not will possibly lead us to discover WHAT IT IS.

MYTH #1: (The working parent’s myth) – It’s not how much but how you spend the time.

Raising children is not about instant magic. Sporadic solutions give sporadic results. Leaving it on grand parent or caretaker cannot replace the need to child to be with you. You can give birth the test tube way, but you can’t raise healthy children through a test tube. Especially parents of zero to five years old – consider part time, working from home or anything that increases your time with the child.

MYTH #2:(The non working mother’s myth) I spend enough time with my child.

Quantity does not mean Quality. Non working mothers say, “I choose not to work so that I can spend time with my children”. You are missing the point if you are counting quality time in terms of hours. While presence is important it is of not much use if it the child is still being raised by the TV. Fifteen minutes of inspiration is far better then seven hours of instructions. Check out how you spend the time!

MYTH #3:I take good care of my child.

Taking care of physical needs is hardly quality time. Any efficient adult can cook, take care of necessities, get homework done, take child to park or swimming or cricket classes (while you sit outside). Its not about physical needs, it’s about mental and emotional needs. In fact it’s not even about fulfilling mental and emotional needs. It’s about understanding these needs and then empowering the child to fulfill them. So if your daughter had fight with a friend, it’s about not offering her advice or solutions but, being empathetically with her till she finds a solution on her own.

MYTH #4:Quality time means spending time for the child.

The key word here is ‘FOR’ the child. While when we say we use the term “with the child”, most of us actually spend time “for the child”. How many times do you really play with them as you are another child: totally into the activity, playing with full josh, fighting, laughing completely inhibited – enjoying it as much as the child. The moment we play for the child, we play act and that is not real play – its act. What is not genuine is not quality. Are you 100% present with the child?

MYTH #5:Time I spend teaching my child is quality time.
Quality time is not about improving the child. It is definitely not about improving your child’s grades. Most of us are poor teachers. This is simply because we operate from an adult’s point of view. While we detested dictations as children, we give the same dictation to our children with the authority of a commandant. No wonder most teaching (and homework) situations are tension filled – for both. Quality time – nay! Count the time you learned something from the child as quality time.

MYTH #6:Even if I spend little less time he will anyhow have a successful life (didn’t I?).

Somewhere you are forgetting that the first 15 years of life are also part of life. So that extra meeting, that extra target at work, and that extra pay check is leaving your child with LESS childhood, with less then optimum 15 important years of life. We worry what the child will be tomorrow; we forget that he is somebody today!

MYTH #7:The weekend myth – what I loose during week, I make up over weekend.

Do you also catch up on sleep, exercise, relationships over the weekend! It’s like saying “eat junk food during the week, over the weekend we will eat healthy”. Unfortunately children don’t develop on such doses. Weekend based parenting either gets loaded with guilt ridden materialistic bribes (I will take you out for pizza) or many a times gets effected by guests, functions, house chores…. It’s daily meaningful doses of sunshine that children will blossom in.

Here is how we define QUALITY TIME:

Through commitment, consciousness and communication understanding a child’s needs and then providing small umpteen opportunities for a child to fulfill them.

By Ratnesh & Aditi Mathur