I disagree with the parenting specialists who say that if you can’t give your kids quantity time, then give them quality time. I think your kids deserve both. I found that my finest discussions with my own children came during the quantity times, not the so-called quality times. I’d be driving one of the kids someplace and—bingo!—the conversation led to a very important topic. I just slowed the car down to get in as much time as possible. Proactive communication comes naturally when we spend a great deal of time with our children. It’s easier to get that time when our children are younger, but it is never too late.
I found that my best conversations happened when food was involved. Each week, I tried to connect with each of my girls over a quick meal or treat. One morning, I took Rebecca for a bagel breakfast and then dropped her off at school. Then I turned around and took Christy to the same bagel shop before dropping her off—good conversations and a few more calories for me.
A friend of mine used to give his kids a nightly backrub. He would wander into their rooms right about bedtime and begin massaging their shoulders. He told me it was amazing how they would begin to open up about their days when he would start rubbing their backs. Another friend wrote her children letters. Often, a letter is better expressed and better remembered than verbal words; many of us express ourselves far more effectively when we write than when we speak. Sure, it takes time to find a card and write the note, but the dividend is communication lines that stay wide open.