Playing with Your Children: It’s Important

“Waste time with your children.”

~ Pope Francis

No matter what your religion, you’ve got to like Pope Francis’ latest plain-spoken comment, made while speaking to a crowd about our work-centered world. It seems like a simple comment, but it is jam-packed with meaning.

If I may humbly dissect the complexity of the statement:

  • The obvious meaning: spend as much time with your kids as possible. No time spent with your kids is a waste.
  • The Pope has a great sense of humor and, of course, used the word “waste” intentionally. But isn’t it an interesting commentary on our society that spending time with our kids could even be facetiously talked about as a waste?
  • What some may consider a waste of time can actually be priceless. For example: simply sitting around chatting with our kids really helps us get to know them and what they are doing in their lives. It’s the definition of “quality time.” Sometimes doing “nothing” brings a family closer together.
  • The Pope didn’t mean to make us feel guilty if it’s difficult to find spare time to spend with our kids. Sometimes our jobs require us to work overtime and some of us have to work nights and weekends to make extra money to pay the bills. It can be hard to fit in down-time with the kids. Yet when we do have a few extra minutes, do we fill it with “productive” items from our to-do list such as cleaning the house, or do we take advantage of the time to kick-back and connect with our kids?

Obviously by using the word “waste,” the Pope was speaking tongue-in-cheek. Spending time with your kids is quite valuable and never a waste of time. In that vein, I’d like to end with another quote, this one from Laurence Steinberg, Temple University psychologist:

“There is no more important job in any society than raising children, and there is no more important influence on how children develop than their parents.”



By Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator
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