| lend them your ears
Calcutta, Nov. 12: “Quality time” is a jargon modern parents love mouthing. But, psychiatrists rue, hardly anyone understands the real meaning of the phrase.
Spending time with children is often confused with helping them out with studies or watching movies together. But none of these amounts to quality time, psychiatrists say. Parents need to spend “interactive” time with them, doing things the child wants to do and not what they think is right and suits their agenda.
“Quality time can be compared to prime time on television. It must be spent in doing things together that are interesting, meaningful and most importantly help in building bonds,” said psychiatrist Dr Aniruddha Deb.
This could mean anything from painting together to reading to story-telling to simply lending an ear to the child. It is also essential to plan things as a family ' the least being having one meal a day together, where family members interact among themselves instead of being glued to the television set.
However, with most parents working nowadays, whatever time they get is focused solely on studies and disciplining, say psychiatrists. What is worse is that even when the mother is not working, parents tend to pack their child’s schedule with tuitions and extra-curricular activities.
“Too much of academics, disciplining or extra-curricular (activities) is detrimental for the child,” said Dr. J.R. Ram, consultant psychiatrist, Apollo Hospitals. Moreover, he added, quantity time cannot replace quality time.
“A mother need not necessarily stay at home to spend quality time with her child,” he pointed out. “In fact, if we take a case where a mother stays at home but is depressed for some reason, she ends up providing neither quantity nor quality time.”
Psychiatrists suggest that parents make time for their children despite domestic and professional pressures. “But that can happen only when parents understand the significance and importance of quality time,” said Dr Rima Mukherji. “Unfortunately, since most parents have picked up their parenting skills from their own parents, traditional barriers come in the way.”
For the older generation, parenting was stricter, more discipline-oriented and often accompanied with punitive action. However, on the flip side, children had a large number of siblings to give them company, which acted as a buffer.
“But today, there are mostly unit families with single children. So the need for parents to spend quality time with their children becomes all the more significant,” said Mukherji.