Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's all about the quality...


A/N: I'm no parent, just a regular person who's too fond of whiling away time by thinking up thoughts which others unfortunately get to read. So these aren't the opinions of an expert, but then, as one of my favourite quotes goes: you don't have to be an authority on a subject to express your opinion.
One of the most clich├ęd terms we hear today is "quality time." It refers to the time a working parent spends with his/her child, who is otherwise neglected. The phrase originated in the United States of America in the 1980s, and according to a spot of research I did, it came from the notion that parents can 'have it all', i.e. a successful career and happy home life.
I remember hearing of this phrase all the time as a child - parents would proudly claim they spend "quality time" with their children. With the passage of time, the phrase started being viewed with some degree of cynicism. There came about an attitude of thinking, "Oh, that person completely ignores his/her children, and then thinks (s)he can make up for it by spending a few minutes or buying expensive gifts," etc.
In today's world, most families do have both parents working, which isn't that bad a thing. Yes, it is sad to see parents leave their children with nannies even as infants - I think you need to stay with your child for at least some time till (s)he is somewhat old enough. But after a point, it gets necessary to leave them (however heartwrenching it may be) and go out to do your job. And that's when quality time kicks in.
Quite frankly, I don't see why quality time is such a bad thing. If you get to spend less time with your child, it makes sense to make those few moments matter. You've only got to look at families where there is a stay-at-home parent, but the child is still completely spoilt to know it's not always quantity that matters. On the other hand, if in the time that you have together, you manage to have conversations with your child over things that matter, you'll probably do a better job at instilling values than a harried mother who ends up pleading with her children (ineffectively, at that) to behave.
Of course, it also depends what exactly you take quality time to be. I would say talking, playing games, or doing anything together would count. Giving the kid an expensive toy, and then just sitting in the same room with a bunch of files probably wouldn't have the same effect.
Quality time isn't just restricted to parent-child relationships either. If you have a friend who you don't get to meet too often, then the occasions when you do meet need to matter, and you need to think of ways to stay connected despite not meeting too often. A lot of relationships fade away because not enough effort is made by either one or both parties to keep it going strong. And it's up to you to decide which are the relationships that deserve to be kept going, and which ones you can let fade away.

4 comments:

ZiggyStrauss said...

I don't know about all these American concepts of child rearing which our own (I'm sorry I have to agree with your Ms Patri here) weak-minded sheep-type people have decided to follow. The baby has to have a separate bed in a separate room, a nanny, not supposed to have too much human contact and no physical punishment. I realise they're ahead of us in a lot of things but I just really disagree with these practices. I'm not really the orthodox type (oh no no no no) but here's one part of our sanskriti that I really stick to.

a traveller... said...

Well you know, I don't like all that either... the separate bed, no hugging etc. - it's all quite stoopid. Don't have kids if it's that much of a problem. Same principle as don't get a dog if you can't take care of them really.

..stupid chap said...

Well i kinda agree here that parents need to spend time when their children are small but i wudn't agree that they shudn't when they are grown up just to get that "Quality time ".

Even with non working parents quality time wil come when u spend a large Quantity of time with ur children, jus like chances of your hitting the bull's eye wud increase with the No.of attempts.

Anonymous said...

i guess the term is rather 'commercialised' these days. we talk about 'quality time' as the quantum of production per unit of time applied ...

further to what u have written, i would like to add to it that for each individual, its not just his children, his wife, his friends, his company, or he himself that ought to be considered to calculate the expenditure of his 'quality-time', but it is all these (and a few more) taken together and how he is able to justify best to all the 'recipients' to his 'time' employed (on them against the other factors)that gives a correct estimate of his quality-time !! that was theory; try applying it in daily life ...... i guess the amount of satisfaction derived by the person on the time spent on various activities (taken individually and collectively)is the ultimate judge of the 'quality' of his quality-time.....

sandy