Quality Time: Being with your kids

(or being With your kids...)

What do we mean "being"? What do we mean "with"?

Someone having serious problems asked the Always Learning list for help.
She didn't like the ideas, and in her exit weasling, wrote "I think the issue has much to do with quality time." Some of the responses are below.

Robyn Coburn:

"Quality time"—this is another one of those myths that has crept into mainstream society to make parents feel better about not being able to spend much time with their kids, for good food-on-the-table reasons and lousy self-centered reasons.
Jenny Cyphers:
Oh yes! And what I find more appalling than the idea of "quality" time, is that most kids have absolutely no choice whatsoever in what "quality" time looks or feels like. Dad likes to go on long bike rides and end up at a folky cafe with live music, so he brings his kid along for quality time, yet the kid doesn't like to go on long bike rides, nor does he like folky music, and in fact has never liked the food at that cafe. For the kid, that doesn't feel like quality time, it feels like wasted time doing something he is obligated to do, to make his dad feel better. YUCK! I see this ALL the time. Where is the kid in the equation? That's what I'm always left wondering!
Sandra Dodd:
I know where the "quality time" phrase arose, though—in court cases involving visitation, when children were with the non-custodial parent and he or she was at work or passed out or playing poker with other adult friends while telling the kid to stay in his room.

I think quality time was a legal term (might still be), in a way—used to charge a parent with wasting the visit in hopes that the courts would stop forcing the custodial parent to pay for or provide transportation to the other home.

So later some psychologist or other wrote up something like "aha! Quantity matters!" Of course it does.
But MORE at work, passed out, or playing poker is worse than less.

So maybe we're back to not the time itself, but the relationship between the parent and child. If the parent doesn't know the child any better than to know whether a basketball game would be fun or excrutiating, that's a problem not of the quality of the time, but of the relationship.


What about a more extreme situation, though?

Karen James wrote very sweetly about being with her son: A Simple Gift

Being Building an Unschooling Nest Mindful Parenting