In Dr. Dobson’s original film series Where’s Dad? he made a point that struck a chord with me all of these years, probably because I’m a father of two young boys. Specifically, Dr. Dobson described the difference between spending quantity time and quality time with our children. More often than not, Dr. Dobson heard parents make the comment that they just want to give their son or daughter quality time–when in reality our kids want quantity time.
I love the way Dr. Dobson illustrated the difference between these two perspectives. He said, imagine you’re really hungry and decide to go to your favorite restaurant to order a steak. Then, imagine how you’d feel if the waiter brought you a delicious, perfectly prepared sizzling piece of beef about the size of a quarter instead of the generous cut you had envisioned. In that moment, is it quality or quantity that you’re looking for? If you’re anything like me, I’m going for the quantity.
The same is true with our kids. They long to spend quantity time with us. I’ve come to see that they don’t need big productions, special outings, or super creative dates. While you can bet those extra efforts are appreciated, the simple investment of getting down on their level and engaging them in whatever interests them is what their heart longs for–be that throwing a baseball, shooting hoops, playing a board game, creating something with Play-Doh, or just wrestling on the floor. Why is this interaction of quantity time so important?
Dr. Dobson pointed out something that just blew me away. He said that dads will spend on average just 37 seconds a day with their kids. That’s about the length of one commercial on television! That’s tragic. When it comes to raising our children and passing our values on to them, I believe the lack of time spent with them is the core of the problem.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always do it right. Try as I may, there are nights when I’ve got to work late. There are trips that take me away from the home. Which is why I strive to carve out extended periods of unhurried time spent with my boys. We’ll grab our bikes and ride through the neighborhood, or hit the local indoor pool and splash until we’re soaked to the bone, or play indoor soccer in the basement and then celebrate with a bowl of ice cream. When I make that added investment in their lives, my wife and I can see a real difference in their spirit and in their behavior.
You know, it’s not the stuff we buy them or the big vacations we plan. So often it’s these little treasures of quantity time that they cherish. What’s more, investing time in their world allows us to keep the doors of communication wide open. Let me encourage you to make a concerted effort to spend more hands-on time enjoying your kids in the New Year.
I know we can do better than 37 seconds, don’t you?