How Much Time is Enough? Quantity Vs Quality Time with your Children
Quality Vs. Quantity Time
The Question of Working or Staying Home
Each family must decide what is best as far as the time that parents spend working outside the home. If one parent can provide enough financial stability to allow the other parent to stay home with kids, then it becomes a question of preference.
When I tell people that my wife is staying home with our daughter, I get interesting reactions. Everyone says the same thing, but they mean different things when they say these things.
I usually hear, "Oh, that's great! I wish I could stay home with my kids." I think this same basic response can carry different meanings. Some people may genuinely wish that they could stay home with the kids, but others may be saying this to reassure themselves that they made the right decision.
In a strange way, I interpret some of these comments as a self-serving statement of the higher value of working outside the home due to financial needs. It seems easy to convince yourself that working and having someone else raise your kids is necessary, but when they hear about someone who has an actual parent raising the kid it could be like salt in a sub-conscious wound.
For our family, it made sense for my wife to hang out with our kid financially. We didn't have ot have a lot of discussions and difficulty making that decision because my wife worked at a day care. In other words, she made low enough wages that other people could drop their kids off with her for the day and actually come out with a higher amount at the end of the day. She also liked the work, but now she gets to work with her own kid instead of other people's kids.
Not everyone has the blessing of a situation of low earning like we did. Some people would have to give up much more money by choosing to stay at home with kids.
So this brings up a great debate. Which is more important? Should parents focus on quantity or quality of time spent with their kids?
How Much Time do Parents Spend with Kids 'These Days?'
Many times, people will look back on the "good ole days" with nostalgic feelings and an impression of a utopia that never existed. This may be the case when you hear people talk about how much time parents used to spend with their kids. Laura Vanderkam reports her findings of social science studies which revealed, "parents are spending a lot more time interacting with their kids now than they did in, say, 1965."
The Population Reference Bureau studies child care time since 1965 in a longitudinal study, finding that figure falling until 1985 when time with kids steadily rose for both fathers and mothers. It turns out that more parents are multitasking their time with kids due to higher rates of both parents working outside the home. This may be an indicator of lowered quality while quantity hours have risen.
So, if parents are spending time with their kids these days, then why would people be worried about the expected moral decay of society due to lack of good parenting? What could be the larger question is: How are parents spending their time with their kids? And furthermore, who are these parents who are the role models for kids?
What is Enough Quantity for You?
How many hours do you think parents should spend with their kids per week
Quality Time with Kids or Quantity Time with Kids
Some people say, "it's not the quantity of time you spend with the kids, it's the quality." Others argue that mothers should stay at home with children and not work outside the home. The true answer comes down to the goal. What is it that you want for your children? Do you want your kid to like you? Do you want to have an influence? Do you want your kids to succeed in life?
A better question to ask is who am I? Parental influence is huge, and even with limited time, kids are watching and living in the environment created by parents.
Ask yourself these questions first:
- What do I want to teach my kids?
- Am I a good influence on my children?
- Do I want to spend time with my children?
- How many books do I have in my house?
- Did I pass on good genes to my children?
That last two probably sound like a joke, but in a book titled Freakonomics evidence is given for what you would not expect. The authors Levitt and Dubner found that parental reading time with kids mattered less than how many books were in the house. What this means is that it is more of a question of who you are than how or how much time you spend trying to mold and improve your children. If you are uneducated yourself, then your children aren't going to be educated by you. If you have an anger problem, then your children will learn that from you. Genetics play some part also, reinforcing the importance of who you are.
What is Quality Time?
Which of these do you recognize as the highest quality time you can spend with your kids?
What Quality and Quantity of Influence are you
If you are not a good influence on your children, then it will be better for you to spend what time you have bettering yourself. Improve yourself so that you can give your children a better representation of a healthy, successful, loving parent.
If you are a good influence on your children, then you probably already know how to spend time with your children. You love them, so you are going to make the best decision for them. Relax and be confident that WHO you are is much more important in the long run, and you are doing your best.
Relationship Between Quality Time and Quantity of Time Spent with Kids
For the most part, quantity correlates with quantity. As time increases with someone, a person will go from small talk to more important conversation. This is also true of spending time with kids. Also, as quality of time spent with kids increases, kids are more likely to want to spend time with their parents. Unfortunately, there are limits.
At the point where parents are hovering and spending too much time involved in their kids' lives, quality no longer becomes possible. An unhealthy relationship has manifested. Keep this in mind as you decide the right balance of "hands on" versus "hands off" parenting. Most kids have a threshold of an amount of time that they can spend with parents without becoming stressed. Parents can blur the boundaries between friend and parent when quantity of quality time is too important.