What Parenting Experts Get Wrong About 'Quality Time' With Kids

Three examples that prove how silly this classic cliché truly is.

Spending quantity time Brooke Cagle | Unsplash

We recently saw a perky talk show host ask a mega celebrity, "How do you balance a busy schedule with two kids and a husband?"  

Her answer: "It's all about quality every time you spend time with your family make sure it's quality quantity doesn't matter."

Wait, what? Quantity doesn't matter? Really? It seems some well-respected research agrees, stating that the amount of time mom and dad spend with their kids doesn't really matter as long as the time you do spend together serves as focused, present "quality" time. 


When it comes to parenting, quantity matters as much as quality 

We get this philosophy in theory and qaulity does matter. But, ultimately, we're not buying it. And we don't think you should either.



If you're not sure where you stand on the topic, consider these three analogies

They may seem silly on the surface, but we promise they have a deeper impact. 


1. Ordering your coffee

You arrive at your favorite coffee shop, order your favorite Extra-Large White Chocolate Mocha, and the barista hands you a tiny cup of your drink instead. Imagine it's the size of the cup you get at the dentist to rinse. Instead of 20 ounces of velvety go-go juice, you get a single shot. She says, "This is the highest quality White Chocolate Mocha!" 

That's nice. Now hand me my extra-large drink.

2. Out with your spouse for date night

Date night — an event as rare as a Sasquatch sighting. It's a great opportunity to reconnect now that you can finish a sentence without a child interrupting and enjoy a meal without cutting anyone's meat. So, when you finally agree on a night that works for both of you, wouldn't you feel disappointed if you measured that time spent in quality  without quantity?

You secure the "chosen" babysitter (you know, the one your kids actually enjoy) for five full hours. Ten minutes into dinner, his hand in yours and eyes connected during a deep, loving conversation, he says, "This was great. Thanks. I need to go get a few things done."  


"I'm sorry, what?!" You thought you had the whole evening together and he's cutting it short? He gives you a peck on the cheek and says, "Honey we had some quality time together now I just need some 'me time.'"

3. Hanging out with your son 

After months of only a text here and there your son is home for summer break. You look forward to one of his favorites ... a family game night. And, you're pleased to see he remembers as he plops down at the table and starts to shuffle the cards. Playful trash talking commences, and he wins the first hand.

At that moment, the doorbell rings. He hops up to greet his buddy from high school, grabs his keys and says, "Hey, it was great spending some quality time together. I'll be home around midnight."

This is pretty normal teenage behavior — but you're not the kid, you're the parent. Remember how this feels and don't do this to your children!




The secret is finding balance

Sure, these examples are extreme (and some laughable) and of course quality time matters, too. But if we're honest, most of us prefer to spend the bulk (or large quantity) of our time with the people who matter most to us. And just like you want lots of time with them, they want (and need) a solid quantity of time with you. You. No one replaces you (or that time). No one. So figure out how to make quantity time with your family happen from now on.

And as for that research study, it turns out, once they dug a bit deeper, quantity time does factor positively in raising your children, especially when they're adolescents, stating "The more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior." 

Look, most of us care deeply about our role as a spouse and parent. We're all doing our best, with some seasons of life going miraculously better than others. No one wants a guilt trip about how they're disappointing the ones they love. But the truth is — before you know it, kids grow up and leave. You'll want them to spend a good quantity of time with you in your advancing years. Do the same for them now.


The Money Couple helps others achieve financial freedom while putting family first. They offer services and resources to bring couples closer together, not only in their marriages, but in their finances as well.