Quality vs. Quantity

A friend just emailed to ask if we made a mistake in the first bullet of our Give Every Day pledge:

To spend intimate, quantity time with our family.

He asked, “Did you mean to say quality?”

It was a good question, so I thought I would elaborate in a post.

The answer is that we actually did intend to say “quantity.”

We want to spend abundant time with each other (and, of course, we want it to be awesome too). The idea here is that “quality” in limited proportions does not suffice. It is certainly possible for quality to be absent from large amounts of time together, but the healthiest relationships (in a family or otherwise) are those where the members spend ample quality time together.

It rails against the norm to put the emphasis on “quantity.” Our culture often fixates on careers, saving for retirement, and keeping up with the Joneses…in lieu of spending time with children. Perhaps fathers are the most guilty of all in this regard. It isn’t that pursuing money, status, or influence is wrong. In fact, the opposite may be true. But our family’s prayer is that we take care in where we set our priorities.

Most of us would agree Rev. Bill Graham has certainly lived a respectable and intentional life. In an interview about his life he talked about his “regrets.”

Although I have much to be grateful for as I look back over my life, I also have many regrets. I have failed many times, and I would do many things differently. For one thing, I would speak less and study more, and I would spend more time with my family.

When I look back over the schedule I kept thirty or forty years ago, I am staggered by all the things we did and the engagements we kept. Were all those engagements necessary? Was I as discerning as I might have been about which ones to take and which to turn down? I doubt it. Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever.

Our goal is to pursue our dreams; our careers, our education, and our hobbies…but only secondarily to what we know is more important and rewarding – our family.

Comments

  1. Love it! When I read that I just nodded understandingly. Quantity time is such a need people don’t realize! So glad you’re getting to spend that with your family too. :)

  2. Christine Jensen says:

    I agree 100%. It reminds me of a quote I have heard over the years from President David O Mckay (a former President of the Mormon Church, of which I am a member) “No success can compensate for failure in the home.” How true that is, and I have to agree with you on quantity…it is in that quantity of time that you open up the channels of conversation with your children. If you keep that channel open by always being there..they will continue to feel comfortable sharing their lives with you, even when their peers may not be doing so with their parents.

  3. Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor says:

    My dad, speaking about families, says, “You can’t have quality time without having quantity time.” I think this post explains that statement perfectly.

    • It’s true. Without adequate time spent together you can’t really get to know each other. Sure, strangers can have a good time together but it is always limited by the depth of the relationship.

  4. I love this! So well put! I spend a great deal of time with my family and I find the more time I spend, the more my life is properly aligned and in balance.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is just one reason why I so enjoy your wife’s blog and am looking forward to following your journey here – so much emphasis on what truly is important.

    I find that I get quality time when I spend quantity time with those who are important to me. I can’t go out to dinner with my husband for a night and truly enjoy just being together and loving each other if it’s the first extended amount of time I’ve been able to spend with him all month. We’re almost strangers – who just happen to sleep in the same bed. But, when we take time to have dinner together every evening with the kids, spend some time just kicked back on the couch and etc… that quantity time turns into quality time and then on the rare occasion that we get to go do something special we really do simply enjoy ourselves and enjoy being together. We already know what is going on in each other’s life – and don’t have to spend the whole evening trying to catch up!

  6. Someone asked us if we made a mistake in our #GiveEveryDay pledge. @TimSheaffer responds thoughtfully & eloquently: http://bit.ly/gMj0IU

  7. Donna Marie Fox says:

    take the time to read this…very inspiring RT @timsheaffer: Quality vs. Quantity http://bit.ly/gMj0IU

  8. Love this. RT: @stephsday: Someone asked us if we made a mistake in our #GiveEveryDay pledge. http://bit.ly/gMj0IU

  9. I appreciate this post. It is so true! If there is no quantity time given, I don’t think quality time really exists. I don’t have a deep relationship with any of the relatives with whom I just did occasional “special” things with, no matter how focused the attention was during those rare times. I haven’t done a lot of “special” things with my folks through the years. But, we’ve amassed a great quantity of time spent together. That means we know each other, we trust each other, we talk, we have a deep relationship, not based on fun special times, but real life time put in.

  10. Well said. I’ve heard that quote from Dr. Graham too and it is something I always keep in the back of my mind.

  11. I think it is common to say quality because it is affordable, while quantity is a true luxury

  12. This has been a pet peeve of mine for years – it was funny to see the title of this post.

    I’ve always considered the idea of “quality time” to be a knee-jerk guilt-driven response from a culture that is busier than it should be at the cost of the “quantity time” for families. Rather than do the hard part of saying “no” and getting off the “going to give my kids everything” treadmill the pop culture came up with the “quality time” phrase as a way to justify that lifestyle and pacify parents feeling guilty over not spending more time with their kids.

    The idea that you can somehow jump right into “quality time” while speeding through the fast-food drive-thru on your way from kid #1’s softball practice to kid #2’s gymnastics is ridiculous.

    It’s like thinking you can enjoy the view from the mountaintops without first going through the valleys and mid-hills.

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