Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

Quality issue based on flawed logic

April 6, 2001


I have very little time to spend with my children these days, but I make sure the hours we do get to spend together are meaningful. Do you agree that the quality of time you are with your children is more important than the quantity?

I'm afraid the logic of that concept is flawed to me. The question is, why do we have to choose between the virtues of quantity versus quality? We won't accept that forced choice in any other area of our lives. So why is it relevant only to our children?

Let me illustrate my point. Let's suppose you've looked forward all day to eating at one of the finest restaurants in town. The waiter brings you a menu, and you order the most expensive steak in the house. But when the meal arrives, you see a tiny piece of meat about 1 inch square in the center of the plate.

When you complain about the size of the steak, the waiter says, "Sir, I recognize that the portion is small, but that's the finest corn-fed beef money can buy. You'll never find a better bite of meat than we've served you tonight. As to the portion, I hope you understand that it's not the quantity that matters, it's the quality that counts."

You would object, and for good reason. Why? Because both quality and quantity are important in many areas of our lives, including how we relate to children. They need our time and the best we have to give them.

My concern is that the quantity versus quality argument might be a poorly disguised rationalization for giving our children neither.

My marriage seems beyond repair to me. My husband is running around with other women and threatening to divorce me. Is there really any hope for us?

It's difficult to say without knowing the details, but I can tell you this. I've seen dozens of families who were in your fix but are now happy and whole.

I taught a class for young married couples for a number of years, and right there under my nose, infidelity was a surprisingly common event. There was one period of time during which I dealt with 19 couples where extramarital affairs had either occurred or were seriously threatening.

These families are still known to me, and nine of them are apparently happily married today. Though this percentage may seem low, remember that these were families on the verge of divorce and have now survived many years. Loving toughness played a definite role working through their difficulties. So yes, hope springs eternal, as well it should.

Let me give you another word of encouragement. Nothing can seem so fixed but change so rapidly as human emotions. When it comes to romantic endeavors, feelings can turn upside down in a day or two. I've seen husbands or wives who expressed hatred for their spouses, saying, "I never want to see you again," only to fall weeping into the other person's arms some hours later.

So hang tough. You may yet be able to preserve what is precious to you. I hope there are better days ahead for you and your husband.

How do you feel about corporal punishment as a deterrent to school misbehavior? Do you believe in spanking our students?

Corporal punishment is not effective at the junior and senior high school levels, and I do not recommend its application. It can be useful for elementary students, especially with amateur clowns (as opposed to hard-core troublemakers).

For this reason, I am opposed to abolishing spanking in elementary schools because we have systematically eliminated the tools with which teachers have traditionally backed up their word. We're down now to a precious few. Let's not go any farther in that direction.

Dobson is president of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, P.O. Box 444, Colorado Springs, CO. 80903; or

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