Quality AND Quantity

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Really Know Your Kids

Ready or not, here comes another Christmas. It’s that time of year when we remember the incredible gift given to us when Jesus, the Son of God, came to planet Earth as a tiny baby so that He could grow up and pay the price for our sins. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Following that example, and that of the Magi who gave precious gifts to baby Jesus, we also give gifts to those we love on Christmas morning.

For the past few months, we’ve been looking at different ways you can get to know your child better. And this month I write with a gift suggestion that, if you give it to your child, will definitely help you get to know him or her better. This suggestion is rooted in the simple fact that children spell the word love like this: t-i-m-e.

There’s no dichotomy between “quality time” and “quantity of time” for kids—your child wants and needs both from you. Quality moments come from quantity time. There is no such thing as “the one minute” dad or mom! 

So the gift idea is that one of the best things you can give your child is the gift of yourself in the form of your time. Your child will quickly tire of most new toys. But he or she will never forget the times you’ve shared together, just the two of you. And you’ll never get a better chance to grow in understanding and appreciating your child than when you agree to participate in those times.

My specific suggestion is that you make up a pile of “gift cards” that your child can use in the coming year, each listing some time commitment on your part that will be meaningful to him or her. You can staple the pile together and wrap it up, or you can make several separate piles and wrap them as stocking stuffers. Then, when your child goes to use one of the cards, you either drop what you’re doing to fulfill what’s written on it, or you make good on it as soon as you possibly can.

What do you write on these cards? They can say things like this:

  • One all expense paid trip to Chick-fil-A (just the two of us)
  • Good for 15 minutes of my undivided attention
  • Redeem for half an hour of playing catch or soccer in the backyard
  • Present to the giver for extra help with homework or a class project
  • Good for one lunch together on a Saturday, just the two of you
  • Redeem for a walk together around the neighborhood
  • Use this to claim a hike together in a local park
  • Present this card for a round of golf together
  • Redeemable for 10 minutes to discuss any question on your mind
  • Present this card for 5 minutes of special/extra prayer time together
  • Good for 20 minutes of reading a book together outside a usual time like bedtime
  • Redeem this card for an hour of playing together on the elementary school playground
  • Use this card to claim half an hour of Mom or Dad teaching you how to do a favorite hobby (crossword puzzles, Sudoku, cooking, stamp collecting, fly fishing, painting landscapes, etc.)

You get the idea. Choose things that will be meaningful to your child. Be creative. Plan to have fun times as well as times of great conversation. Include multiple copies of each card in the pile.

I guarantee that if you’ll give your child this gift, and then follow through on what the cards promise, you’ll have some amazing times with him or her in the coming year. You’ll talk, play, laugh, build memories to last a lifetime, and add depth to your love that’s absolutely priceless.

Debbie-Jo and I have done this with our grandkids. How much fun it was for me to redeem each gift with each grandchild! I know I received more from the gift than they did!

This Christmas give your child more of yourself, more of your time, and get to know each other better as you do.

KEYWORDS: Behavior, Spiritual Identity, Purity, Relationships, Family,