Quality Time With Children: The Way Parents Should
This, they say, is to counterbalance the seeming negligence on the part of parents, occasioned by modern-day socio-economic demands, which often require that both mother and father go out to work.
The fear is that if something is not done to halt this trend soon, the family, as a unit, will continue to fall apart to the detriment of all concerned.
Prominent among the many highlighted factors responsible for this problem is lack of bonding that is capable of bestowing a sense of purpose and direction, especially on growing children.
To this category of people, all the ills that are presently plaguing the society are traceable to the family, which as a crucial component, is no longer committed to breeding complete and responsible human beings, possessing qualities and values that can move society to the next level.
And so, to rectify this anomaly, the main solution being proffered is for parents to start building close-knit families through introducing and inculcating the necessary values and virtues in their offspring. The starting point for this is to create the time, no matter how tight their schedules may be. But what really constitutes quality time? How should parents go about it? What form should it take and how long should it be? The Guardian discovered that the term ‘quality time’ means different things to different people.
To Una Ukoyen, an auditor and a public servant, the definition of quality time is coming home from work, ensuring that his wife and child are alright and spending time with them. “We eat together, watch movies together, pray together, sleep together and once in a while, I take my family out to very nice places,” he explains. “I spend quality time with my family every day. After close of work at 4pm, I am home by 6pm.
From that time till we all retire to bed, I ensure I am in connection with my family and of course, I have the whole weekend to myself, which I also share with them. And so, there is no reason for me not to spend quality time with my family and I thank God for that because I enjoy every second I spend with them.”
Since it is such a crucial aspect of family bonding, Ukoyen says he doesn’t think quality time should have duration. Any and every opportunity should be seized to express love to loved ones. “Every opportunity I have is spent with my family and even when I am at work, I still call them to know what is happening in the house. Sometimes, I help to bathe my daughter, prepare her for school before leaving for work. And when I return from work, I continue from where I stopped. Lagos is so stressful and so, I prefer to come home and relax with my family.
If I have to go out, I do so with my family,” he says. For Ogechi Nnaji, an educationist, spending quality time with her family involves always praying, eating and playing with them. She also ensures members of her family engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve knotty issues to avoid conflicts.
“Whenever there is conflict, I ensure there is conflict resolution so that peace will reign. We also go out together, especially during vacations, when my children are on holidays and I am also on leave. We all hang out together,” she says. Nnaji believes in quality and not quantity. So, quality time does not necessarily have to take up the whole day. Rather, it is packing as much into whatever time is available.
“No matter how little the time I have, I make the best of it. So, when sometimes I come home tired after work and I need to rest, my family understands.” While Ukoyen and Nnaji have quite some time to spend with their families because of the nature of their jobs, Gbenga Bajomo is not so lucky, as he has little or no time with his family of three.
A banker, he leaves home at 5am and returns at 10pm, by which time his children have already gone to bed. “I know it is not right, but I don’t have a choice for now,” he says. “I sometimes have to go to work even on Sundays. But I have my future plans, which hopefully will enable me spend more time with my family.
Luckily, my wife agreed to resign from her job and stay with the children for now. To make up for this lack, I always travel with them abroad whenever I’m on leave and during public holidays, I ensure I spend every second with them.” Like Nnaji, he believes it is not about quantity but quality.
“I think it is more bonding to spend five minutes listening attentively and helping your 10-year-old son or daughter do some school assignments than all the family members staying three hours at home with everybody locked away in their rooms, doing their own thing,” he says.
“Quality time becomes meaningful, when all family members are together, getting to know themselves and doing things to improve their lives and wellbeing.” Dr. Pius Adejoh, a senior lecturer in the sociology department at the University of Lagos, says it is very crucial that families spend quality time together.
“Quality time is a time when a parent or both parents make themselves not just physically present, but get involved with members of the family. The importance of quality time can be seen from the aspect of bonding, as it has a way of helping members of the family to bond as one. It helps to understand the challenges individual members of the family are going through.
It also helps in moulding and sharpening behaviour, impacting values and deciding on things that are of common interests to the members of the family.” Adejoh, however, explains that the importance of spending quality time could vary depending on who is involved.
For the children, it helps them socialise and get acquainted with the values the family believes in. On their part, the parents can hear their children out, correct the negative values and morals they might have started picking from peers. The parents are thus able to impact on and guide them along the path they desire.
It helps to track children and tell if they are going in the right direction. Quality time helps to create intimacy between husband and wife, as well as afford them the opportunity to share and for companionship or communion. “In fact, the Bible makes it clear that one of the reasons for marriage is companionship.
Child bearing is almost secondary. In that light, how can you achieve the essence of marriage, if there is no quality time? Being together improves the emotional and psychological health of the couple and so it is so essential,” explains Adejoh.
In his view, quality time can take several and diverse forms. “Going to the beach, hanging out in open spaces or going sight-seeing are all part of spending quality time. Some people, by reason of orientation, religious belief or personal ideology may have their preferences.
So, it could be in the form of jogging, eating out, seeing a movie, reading the Bible together, sharing, out-door sporting activities, attending church activities or entertainment shows, which is all dependent on the family’s orientation and standard of living. There is no hard and fast rule about what form quality time should take.
The family decides what is best for them. “ Again, it is difficult to place finger as to how long it should take to consider it a quality time. It is possible to stay with your family all day, yet it is not productive in terms of quality. Sometimes, it might not be the amount of time that defines the quality.
It varies with the individual and so, I recommend that whenever you make time available let it be qualitative, interactive and worthwhile.
You can be in the house and you are not available and so, it will be difficult to say how many hours exactly should make up quality time, because even an hour could make more sense than five. But then, in this modern time, I don’t know how many people can make out so much time.
However, whatever time you have to spend let it be rich and your family will remember it for a long time. ” Adejoh advises busy parents to always prioritise so as to have some quality time for their families. “If busy parents wait until they are entirely less busy, they will never have that. So, if your family is important, then it should be one of the priorities on your list.
Many people don’t work on Saturdays and Sundays. Such people must make it a matter of priority to devote time to their families, cut down on unimportant meetings to be with their families. Your family is all you have outside your job. So, if your family is in disarray, there is a huge problem.”
What are the consequences of not spending quality time with the family? “It is grievous. First, you become a stranger to your kids and your family.
If you don’t spend time with your children, how will you know them? You would just wake up one morning to discover you may have been breeding monsters at home and then it will be difficult to correct. If you don’t want to be embarrassed at the end, I think it is better to create quality time to shape your kids the way you want them to go. Otherwise be prepared to harvest what you sowed.”