My husband’s family lived a day’s drive away, while my family lived only an hour away. Yet our children were closer to his parents than mine. It seemed backward!
When we visited my parents, we would only spend a few hours there. The adults would sit around and talk while the kids played with the few toys my mom kept at her home. The visits were, as two of my children told me, boring. It’s not that my parents ignored the children but there wasn’t much to do and only so much to say and soon we were driving back home.
When we visited my husband’s family, we stayed for a week. We participated in their daily life. This resulted in plenty of time both for the adults to enjoy conversing with each other and for significant interactions between his parents and our children. Throughout the day, there were opportunities for one-on-one relating between grandparent and grandchild, as well as times when everyone could join in group activities. Sometimes we opted to do the “tourist things”, but mostly we just lived together. It was bonding. I don’t think we ever saw my husband’s family more than twice a year, but those lengthy visits created good memories.
At my dad’s funeral a couple of years ago, one of my nephews shared about how much Grandpa meant to him. They lived close to each other and had spent a large quantity of time together. His experience of my father’s love was clearly stronger than my children’s. Again I asked, why?
Quality time happens best when there is enough quantity time to produce quality time. Even though my in-laws lived farther from us and we saw them less frequently, when we did see them, we had the quantity time that allowed for quality time to happen.
Just as a peer-friendship suffers when there is not enough time together, so does friendship with the “young people” in your life. As grandparents, my husband and I are discerning how to have the right quantity of time to ensure quality time.
Does your quantity time lead to quality time? If not, why not?
Examine your time spent with your grandchildren — think strategically. Is our time well spent or just spent?
Marion Schleusener is the grandmother of six and lives in Lansing, Michigan.
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