How do you know when someone loves you? Is it with their sweet touch of affection? Perhaps the gifts they lavish on you? Or maybe it’s through their daily words of encouragement.
Did you realize everyone has certain ways they are more apt to give and receive love? For some individuals—including many children—love is recognized in the form of time. Minutes and even hours spent together become the way to their hearts!
Quality vs. Quantity
Years ago, my dad told me that kids don’t only need quantity of time, but quality of time spent with their parents. I still remember having this conversation with him while we were on a bike ride together when I was in my early 20’s—that’s thirty years ago! Even as a young adult, our time together made a great impression on me.
I’m sure my dad’s comments would be agreeable to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, as he states in his book, “The most important factor in quality time is not the event itself but that you are doing something together, being together.”
Do you see this characteristic of desiring quality time in your own child? Does he long to spend undistracted time talking with you? Does she simply want to be in your presence as soon as you get home from work? Do you often hear the words from him: “Can we go outside and play catch—just the two of us?” or “Will you teach/show me how to make your awesome sugar cookies?” If so, your child’s love language may be quality time.
If your child adores time with you more than anything else, how can you learn to “speak” their love language more fluently? Depending on the age of your child, here are a few suggestions of time together well-spent:
If you have a preschooler, ask him to choose 2-3 books for you to read aloud to him. If your child is older, suggest you each read your books for a given amount of time together on the couch, in front of the fireplace, or in her favorite quiet spot. For tweens and teen children, why not read the same book “together” and talk about it as you both make your way through the chapters? Work at coming up with creative ways to make this a special time of just being together.
We all have to eat, so why not do it together? If you enjoy cooking or baking, ask your kiddo to join you in the kitchen for culinary fun times together. My mom included me so often in all matters of cooking when I was young. I enjoyed being with her, and learned many cooking skills that I use today as an adult. But even if you’re only a microwave warm-up cook, this can still be a fun time together with your child. Talk about the food you’re spending time eating together—what you like about it or maybe how you could make it taste even better!
With a preschool child who wants quality time, simply getting on the floor with him is great fun! He’ll have a blast climbing on top of your back or running toy cars up and down your legs. With older children and teens, you may need to initiate this together time since they may not ask you anymore like they did when they were younger. But, observe what they enjoy doing—computer games, shooting targets with a BB gun, riding bikes, or practicing sports skills—and do it with them at least once or twice during the week.
Prayer time between parent and child can be such a sweet experience. And for those quality time kids, this can be a very special time of closeness by sharing with one another (and with God) what’s going on in their lives. Going to the Lord in prayer with our children doesn’t have to be long and labored. In fact, we need to model it as simple, open, and honest communication with God. Take just a few minutes in each day—whether it be in the morning before school, at mealtimes, before bedtime, or somewhere in-between to pray with your child. She will get to know you better by hearing what goes into your prayers as you do the same with her.
This may seem too obvious to even mention, but you’d be surprised at how little time some parents spend in conversation with their own kids especially when children reach teen years. Talking to your quality time child—even a few minutes each day—with guarded attention given to her is one of the best gifts you can provide. Conversations can range from silly nighttime dreams to funny (or difficult) situations that happened at school to faith-based questions or ideas—all depending on age and maturity level of your child. Talk-time for children who desire quality time with parents is one of the most important keys to building a stronger relationship overall.
Quality time with your child doesn’t have to be a complicated event. Your child will cherish the attention you give them during these formative years. Most importantly, by providing these intentional minutes of attention with your “quality time children” you’re speaking love to them—in their favorite language.