For many years the trend was all about spending a good quantity of time with your children. Then a couple of decades ago it all changed to fit our busy life schedules. The catch-cry then became, “It’s not the quantity of time that’s important. It’s the quality of time…a short period of total focus on your child will suffice and they will be so invigorated by the special time, that you’ll have contented kids. Not so in my experience. For the last 18 years my wife and I have been running a parenting organization called Forefront Families (See our extensive website with hundreds of pages of free help for parents)

We have found that kids need plenty of your time without distraction and the quality you put into it pays you big dividends. In a set of class lessons with 4th graders I asked the students, with their eyes closed, “How many of you would like your mother to spend more time with you?” 76% raised their hands. I asked how many wanted their fathers to spend more time with them. 68% said yes. You see, folks, just being in the same house or car is not ‘spending time’. The children stated that they want your undivided attention, doing something special and not costly with them. One parent, when asked by her daughter if she would please spend more time with her doing one-on-one activities broke down and said words to the effect of, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize that it hurt you so much. I wish you had asked me earlier.” Now the mother and daughter are spending special times together.

Time is so short and we have our children only a brief time before they leave to make a life of their own. Sometimes we can busy ourselves so much in our careers and endeavors, so that we might give our families a good life, that we neglect to give what our kids want most, and that is our TIME. One boy said that he would rather have his family live on the side of the road and have time with each other than to live in a flash house with all the things. This statement blew me away. Wow! Do you see how important it is to spend time with our children?

A business executive’s daughter was getting married. He had spent so little time with her that he didn’t even know her bridesmaids’ names. Neither did he know his girl’s favorite color, but he was very successful in his job. During the wedding his mind wouldn’t stop thinking about this beautiful bride and how he didn’t really know her that well. His daughter had resigned herself to never having a positive relationship with her dad, because he was hardly ever around. On Monday, following the wedding, he called his aspiring employees together and talked to them about the turmoil and regret, even shame, he had gone through over the weekend. “If any of you want my job, just ask me. I have lost such valuable time and relationship with someone I love dearly. I thought I was doing all this to give her and my other children a good life. It’sjust not worth it!”

Written by Brian Burgess, School Counselor PPE, Nashville TN