Parent to Parent: Quality vs. quantity in time spent with kids | Parenting


By Jodie Lynn Parent to Parent

Q {!–FeatureDatelineStart–} How much time do parents really need to spend with their kids to feel like we’re doing a good job raising them? I have friends and relatives that are home with their kids every day and those that are almost never home. What is the best way to be sure that our kids are getting the correct amount of parenting to provide them with long-lasting life skills?

From a reader • For 40 minutes each day, my family turns off all of our cell phones and puts them in a basket. TV, radio, etc., anything that’s digital or can distract us from our dinner and conversation time together. For this time frame we talk and eat together and completely focus on one another. It’s the only way we can really have a sit-down discussion with our kids about various topics. It took a while for them to get used to it but now it’s working very well. In fact, their grades, behavior and self-confidence have all improved quite a bit. — Patti P. in Queens County, New York

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From Jodie Lynn • This has been a popular question for decades. For today’s busy parents, it can become complex.

Quantity is not equal to quality when it comes to spending time with our kids. For example, when we get ready for work in the mornings, make sure that they have breakfast, maybe make their lunches, get them ready for school or whatever, rush out the door, go to work ourselves, pick them up from school or daycare , take them to practice, answer emails, cook dinner, etc., and then do it all over the next day … that’s a lot of time spent on the kids, but there may not be any meaningful interaction therein.

Quality time, which is the most important, is an example of the above reader’s advice. She is focused on doing something together as a family with no interruptions involved. It may not need to be for that length of time, but it’s definitely noninterrupted, focused time.

The amount of time parents spend with their kids makes almost no difference in how they turn out as adults. The quality of the time is what’s most important.

One of the key components that builds resilience in young people is a sense of being personally connected to adults. This can’t happen if you are always in a “rush” mode.

Reading together, sharing meals, one-on-one conversations, playing board games and being warm and listening to your kids all have positive outcomes.

Just remember, it isn’t the number of hours you put in as a parent that matters the most, it’s how you choose to spend that time that makes the biggest and longest lasting difference.

Can you help? Our kids are preparing to go back to school at the end of August but are worried about many things: reconnecting with peers, keeping up with schoolwork and now the rising COVID-19 cases with the new delta variant. We can already see their anxiety levels rising, especially for our 10-year-old who is a constant worry-wort. How’s the best way to help them calm down and try to assure them that their school year will work out? How are other parents handling this situation?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email: [email protected], or go to, which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.


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