18 Dec 5 Characteristics of a Healthy Family: Quality Time
During the Christmas season, we’ve been talking about the importance of a healthy family. So far we’ve covered the first two things that make a family healthy, and today we’ll jump into the third. You can catch up on the rest of this series on my Youtube channel.
#3: Makes the Commitment of Time
A healthy family makes the commitment of time to one another. I have some statistics to share with you about this from the University of Michigan Institute of Social Research. It says this: working mothers spend 11 minutes of quality time each weekday with their children and 30 minutes a day on the weekends. It’s amazing how we don’t realize how little time we spend with our children.
Now, fathers spend 8 minutes of quality time on the weekdays and only 11 minutes on the weekend. One of the things that stood out to me during the Columbine tragedy (if you don’t know, I worked as a minister during that time), was something Josh McDowell, author of “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” said to me. He said to me, “Billy, what’s amazing is that we are beginning to live today in a fatherless society.” Then he said something to me that I had never researched myself. He told me that over 75% of the males in prison never had a father figure in their life.
So when we talk about making the commitment of time, we need to understand in our society the importance of quality time for mothers and fathers to spend with their children. In fact, here’s another statistic. Mothers that do not work outside the home spend only 13 minutes a weekday of quality time.
The point is there are challenges to actually spending the kind of time we need to spend with our children. But a healthy family makes the commitment. So here are a couple of areas of time where you should be available.
There should be time given to your marriage. This is really important if you do have children. The children will watch how you relate to one another. I’ve always said for years that the home is a laboratory for human relationships. If you want to see your children become healthy adults, then learn how as a husband and wife to relate to one another, care for one another, and communicate (remember eye contact, physical touch, body language, etc). That gets modeled to your children. What they see modeled before them is what they become. If they see the father loving and cherishing the wife, then they’ll do the same. If they see the wife respecting and reverencing the husband, then they will model that.
There should be individual child time. That means you should not only spend time together as a family, but as individuals. In fact, one of the things that has been tremendously challenging in this day and age is for a family to sit down at a table and eat a meal together. We’ve got cellphones in our back pockets and we can be looking and texting, or the television can be on. We need to turn all these things off as a family. Make sure that you actually have time to take each child on a personal date, whether you’re the father or the mother.
There should be all-together family time. This is where real bonding can happen as well. As you know, we’re in the Christmas season and a lot time families get together and people haven’t seen each other for several months or even a few years. It’s amazing when you come back together and you can get right back in if you came from a healthy family.
There should be unscheduled time. This is time that just serendipitously happens. That unscheduled time can sometimes be the very best times you spend together. Just the other day, I went to see one of my grandson’s play basketball. I thought they were playing a game that day, but they were actually just practicing. So I stood and watched him practice for a while, but my two older grandsons said, “Poppa, let’s go play.” So there was a football field, and it was a beautiful, sunny day in Colorado. We spent an hour playing football together. I can’t tell you how big of a deal that was for me and them.
There should be planned, fun times. One of my mentors told me that he took his kids out somewhere fun every Saturday night. They did this right up until the kids left home. What was unusual to me about that story was that the dad was a minister. He had to be up early every Sunday morning. Yet on Saturday night, he took his family out for fun times together! He said it was one of the most beneficial things he had ever done.
Another one of my other mentors told me, “Don’t forget to have fun with your family and don’t let the kids feel the pressure of the family.” Sometimes in emotionally unhealthy homes, everything negative that’s going on in the house is talked about and the kids feel the pressure of that. I’m not saying don’t be authentic, I’m just saying protect them.
The term husband literally comes from the word “house band.” It’s the band that goes around the barrel that protects and keeps the barrel together. The word wife comes from the word “weaver.” So the wife weaves the details of the home together with the children and the husband provides the actual protection. When you function as a husband and a wife and do that properly, then fun times can be had and everyone can be healthy.
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