Now here’s a concept we can sink our teeth into. Quality family time is (or should be) a goal of your family interaction. These are memory-makers, “Kodak moments,” a sigh for parents who feel like they are getting affirmation, who feel like they’ve finally gotten something right. But what makes quality family time?
There are three categories of quality family time. In healthy functioning families, all three categories exist. There are glimpses, moments, and planned time together.
Angie labored over the kitchen sink, making the fixin’s for a salad for dinner. She glanced into the family room and saw 5-year-old Allison reading to her 3-yr-old brother. She would read the page and then show him the pictures, pointing out how the words captured the pictures. Angie sighed and grinned as she continued making supper. She just witnessed a glimpse of quality family time.
Hank was playing catch with his son, Henry, in the back yard, after coming home from Henry’s Little League baseball game. Mandy was on the swing as their mom walked out to be with them.
“Push me, Mommy,” Mandy pleaded.
“All right, all right. I’m coming. Don’t get all in a tizzy.”
Mandy giggled and asked, “Mommy, what’s a tizzy?” as her mom started pushing her.
Across the yard, Hank pretended that Henry was throwing the ball too fast and it was hurting his hand. Henry sighed, smiled, and commended, “Yeah, riiight.”
Here, everybody’s together. They’re having fun. It just happened, a moment of quality family time.
After their usual, Sunday afternoon, scheduled family planning meeting, the Wilsons finalized their upcoming family vacation. Everyone was heard and each got something they had lobbied for that was within their time and financial constraints. On Saturday morning, they had all pitched in with the weekly housecleaning. Working together, dividing up responsibilities according to age and ability, they got the whole house straightened in only two hours. Dad was actually right with his tired, old “more hands, less work” trope.
These two snapshots are examples of the category of quality family time that is planned time together.
Keep in mind several obstacles to quality family time. While each of your family members need their private space, holing up in their bedroom for long periods of time is an obstacle. As the parent, you might negotiate a block of time where they can be alone. Quality family time is where your children learn social interaction skills, emotional intimacy, sharing, and bonding, all of which will serve them well as adults.
Also, in our pervasive electronics, computers, and cyberspace, kids will gravitate to these activities if allowed. Establish family rules. For example, no more than 2 hours of electronic gaming and TV time per day, and that is only after chores and homework are completed. No electronics (such as Ipads and phones) during family meals. Oh, and eat dinner around the table together. My kids still tease me about promoting “pleasant conversation” during meals. Research shows that, back in the day, families gathered for 15 meals per week, out of a possible 21 meals. Nowadays, families gather on average for only 3 meals per week. Being too busy is not an excuse. Make the time. Eating together is a great time to nurture quality family time.
Achieving the goal of creating quality family time together will serve your family well. Blessings, Jon