By Carey Casey
Leading up to Father’s Day, there’s a national campaign to remind fathers of the important role they play in their children’s lives. It uses a common phrase for its slogan: quality time.
I endorse this, because we need dads embracing their roles, spending time with their kids, and making memories together. And time is one of the most important, basic commitments that a father makes. Quality time with your kids is a great goal.
At the same time, I hope that term doesn’t give you the wrong idea as a dad …
Here at the Center, we have found that most of the great dads we interact with—the dads who really get it when it comes to being there for their kids—are not talking about quality time. They know that it doesn’t usually work to schedule quality time. Most often, the quality time is unexpected—it just happens when you’re practicing a sport, riding in the car or eating a meal together, investing quantity time in the relationship with your kids.
If you think about it, “quality time” is an adult concept; we want to get the most done in a given time period, and in relationships it adds an extra layer of pressure and expectations.
I know what dads do; I’ve done it myself. We tell our children we wish we could spend more time with them. We wish we could sit down and play a game of Monopoly or Ping-Pong. We wish we could take them to the park and push them on the swing. But right now, we can’t. Our schedules are just too tight. Then we try to make up for it by doing something special.
Usually, when I hear dads talk about “quality time,” it’s like they’re making an excuse …
This email is really just the start of my thoughts on this. I hope you’ll keep reading in my blog. There’s a challenge to think about “quality time” from your children’s perspective, an historical example from the diary of Charles Adams, the son of President John Adams, as well as a collection of practical action points that should benefit you and your kids.
Make the most of every opportunity to connect with your children.
Keep up the good work, dad.
Carey Casey is CEO of the National Center for Fathering—fathers.com—and author of the book Championship Fathering (2009). He writes a weekly blog and email for dads, where this article first appeared. (It is used here with permission.) Carey and his wife Melanie are parents of four children and have seven grandchildren. You can subscribe to his weekly email at fathers.com.