All Family Time is Quality Time

Don't feel guilty about the amount of "quality time" you spend with your family. Some experts are beginning to shun the quality time movement for something much more basic.

"It doesn't take grand gestures to build quality relationships with your kids," says Laura Sessions Stepp, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of the book "Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence." Ms. Stepp spent a year studying 12 youngsters from various parts of the United States--urban Los Angeles, Durham, North Carolina, and a farming community in Ulysses, Kansas.  She lived in their homes, joined them at school and had pizza with their friends. “These children are all trying to figure out answers to such questions as: ""What kind of person am I?""; ""What am I learning?""; ""How do I fit in with friends?""; and ""How can I create distance from adults yet remain connected to them?""

You Don’t Need a Trip to Disneyland

Ms. Stepp believes carving out family time doesn't require major adjustments to your life. "We think we have to take the family to Disneyland, or buy season tickets to the symphony to have a good time," she says. "But quality time should be woven into our lives. Particularly as our children get older and slip away from us, we need to stop worrying about the extraordinary and think more about the ordinary." These encounters illustrate the many valuable lessons Stepp offers parents: love them dearly, give them responsibility, be aware of their friends, give them space, manage your fears, stay engaged.  Here are a few of her suggestions.

  • Children want your undivided attention. When they talk, look at them, engage them in further conversation, show your interest. Pay attention to, and enjoy, the details.
  • Listen to their music. Who knows, you might begin liking it. See if they might enjoy the music you most listen to.
  • Ask them what they want to do. Is baseball their love? Play catch in your backyard, or pitch a few at a local baseball diamond. Don't stop playing with them.
  • Establish new family traditions. Set a specific time each week for them, such as Friday pizza nights, Sunday brunches, or game night.
  • Develop your family as a team. Give everyone chores. Do them together. Encourage learning by doing.
  • Make one-on-one time with each child. Kids talk more freely when they're with just one parent. Treat them with respect. Share them with other adults.
  • Introduce them to the spiritual part of life or guide them in your faith.

More Questions about Quality Time?

The HealthQuest Employee Assistance Program has been helping employees with parenting questions for more than 25 years.  Please call confidentially at 1-888-275-1205, option 7, for around-the-clock assistance.