Quality Time with Your Child 101

What is “quality time” and why has it reached paramount importance in parenting magazines?

Quality time is when you spend time focused on your child. It is not the time that you pay the bills, clean the house, or run errands. It is not the time that the ringing of the phone constantly disrupts your conversation with your son.

Quality time is any pleasurable activity that a parent and child are engaged in together. It can be shopping, baking cookies, simply talking, playing a game, or even going through homework- anything that the child enjoys doing together with you.

Your son knows how important incoming phone calls are to you. When you let the voice mail answer the phone, you are conveying a nonverbal message that your child is important and valued.

When you allow your daughter to choose the place and activity of your quality time, you are sending a message of respect. You are letting her know that her desires are important to you.

It is important to demonstrate interest in your child’s interests. Imagine that someone made derogatory remarks about your political, religious, or social views. As adults, we would generally react by feeling hurt and belittled.

Children, too, need to align themselves with people who share their views and interests. This does not mean that you need to develop a fascination with dolls in order to spend quality time with your daughter that is presently obsessed with her doll collection. However, when you listen to her description of the various details of the dolls in an attentive manner, you are subtly hinting to her, “I love you so much that whatever is important to you is of interest to me”. This will raise her self-esteem.

Conversely, a child who regularly hears from their parent the verbal or silent message that, “Your toys and friends are of no interest to me because I am busy with more important things” will suffer a tremendous blow to his self-esteem.

Most children will gladly talk about their interests and experiences to any adult that will listen to them. If your child is hesitant to share details of his life with you, it is often a sign that he has been rebuffed by a ‘too busy’ adult during the times that he was open to sharing thoughts about his class and hobbies.

Some parents wonder if they are being dishonest by feigning an interest in moths while viewing their son’s insect collection. You need not pretend to want to start your own personal bug collection, yet you should feel an interest in the matter simply because it is something that is important to your son.

I once heard it said that when a child’s toy boat gets a hole and sinks to the bottom of the bathtub, it is an equally great tragedy as the merchant whose fleet of ships loaded with merchandise sink in the sea. A child’s world has the same importance to him, as our world as adults has to us.


  1. Natalie Valles says:

    I liked how this article notes ignoring the phone. Just the other day, we were sitting at dinner and the phone rang. My son became very anxious because we did not rush to asnwer it–it fact, we did not answer it at all. He said after a bit, “the phone’s ringing!” “I know,” I said. “Aren’t you going to answer it?” “No, we’re eating,” I said. “Well, what if it’s important?” he asked. I said, “then they’ll leave a message and we’ll call them back in a few minutes.”

    When my husband and I were first married-no kids–I hated that his pager was going off every night at dinner. I just wanted 20 minutes to eat and talk. Now we have dinner together most every single night and I am reminded that I am teaching my kids the value of my time with them and as a family. Thanks for the article, it was particularly relevant to us.

  2. Julie Lambla says:

    My husband and I also let the machine get the phone during dinner. Our children at first were a bit confused at our apparent lack of hearing but they now understand that even if the phone call is important, our time together is what’s most important to us.

    Thanks for the great website.

  3. This means I have to listen to stories of Pokemon, doesn’t it? Ack!

  4. This article is of particular importance to me throughout because my daughter has been hankering for my one-on-one attention for a number of months now. I’ve been conscious of it, but had difficulty allowing myself to put down tasks and sit down to look at her, so to speak. There is so much to do all the time. Sitting down or doing something that feels unproductive is extremely unnerving to me, but this has helped me see that there is nothing as productive or as important as spending the moments with my daughter that she desperately hungers for. Thank you, on behalf of us both! I know it is still not too late, thank the LORD!

  5. nurraizan azim says:

    Such a meaningful article for me right now. Kids deserve all the attention in the world.