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April 2, 2007 / allyo

That age old question

When it comes to parenting, what matters, quality or quantity? Even though the evidence tells me that my kid is getting about as much of my undivided attention now as he would if I were a SAHM, plenty of folks argue that it’s really about quantity. That quantity grants more opportunity for quality, and not only that, but that the quality that comes from spending more time with your kids than a dual-WHO household can manage is superior to the quality that comes from focusing 99.9% of your free time on your kids.

And I say that, quite frankly, is bullshit. Take two loving families, place one parent (and I don’t care if it’s the mom or dad) home full-time in one and in the other both hold full-time jobs and tell me the kids in the first family are better off. In some intrinsic, impossible to measure sort of way, of course. It’s no secret that I’d rather be at home but something I’ve realized in the past 2.5 years since Jamie was born is that having a stay-at-home parent doesn’t just benefit the child, it benefits the family. Yes, even if you’re not staying at home primarily to keep house there are plenty of things that get done over the course of a day that other families have to cram into 1 or 2 hours in the morning, maybe 3 hours in the evening (if they’re lucky) and 48 hours over the weekend. These days when I long to be at home it is still about being with my kid but it’s also about not having to go to the grocery store on the weekend. And I get it, my house wouldn’t be much cleaner if I was at home and would probably be much, much messier (two different things folks) but I would have some power over the rhythm of our days.

But I’m not saying either side has it better or is right or wrong. I’m saying in the long run I don’t really think it matters. Every family has its own circumstances and its own best/worst case scenario. And something that I know from experience is, kids get it. They understand intention, they know when they are secure and when they aren’t. And I know that our kid is learning that mom and dad are always there for him, even if they’re not always physically by his side. The concern is that he learns it and is secure in it, not how many hours in the day is spent learning it



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  1. FriendD / Apr 3 2007 5:00 pm

    You get it….this is not black and white and everyone has a different reality, set of challenges and problems. This debate will rage on. I personally think that our families can benefit from relationships with other families that function differently. Need your dry cleaning picked up as an emergency? I can do it, I drive by there every day. If I am fundraising for a charity, I seek connections my working friends have from being in that part of the world every day. Childcare fall through? If I’m home, no problem, drop him off. I actually believe that it takes a village and I am proud to say so. But then, here I am feeling confident and then I see a woman on the today show who wrote a book that suggests it is not prudent to stay home with your kids because your husband might leave you penniless and alone……

  2. Austina / Apr 9 2007 6:14 pm

    My two cents…. Who the hell cares? I certainly don’t. I worked, I stay at home. Is one situation better or worse? Really who cares? I am doing what I want to do and if that benefits my children and family then terrific. But truly, I say do what you need/want to do and stick by it. Your spirit will guide you and your family, not some author, stranger, friend or family member. Only you can decide what works for your situation and circumstance. I guess, I really don’t put a lot of credence into what others say or do, but what I decide is right for me. I have always lived that way and you know that. But just in case, I think you are a very good mom for all that you do and don’t do. Jamie loves you and in the end, that is all that really matters.

    Again, my two cents…

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