Initial Thoughts: Quality Time Ruining Our Kids

(Editor's note: Back when Tom Pfeifer was required to read five-plus newspapers a day for his day job, for amusement he compiled news reports from which he could thread a theme and emailed his Initial Thoughts to family and friends. While he works on other projects, he is regurgitating some of them here. We hope you enjoy.)

Initial Thoughts
© 2007 Tom Pfeifer
Current as of March 24, 2007

Mothers and fathers are spending more

time with their kids than ever before—

even more than in the halcyon days of

Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best—

and are still suffering mom guilt and dad


They’re also raising a generation of fat,

mind-controlled kids who will never leave


Dads nearly tripled the amount of time

they spend with their kids from 2.5 hours

weekly in 1965 to seven hours in 2003.

Moms’ time with their offspring didn’t jump as dramatically, but it still leapt from 10.2 hours a week in 1965 to 14.1 hours now.

Most of that “quality time” must be spent stuffing their faces. The American Obesity Association estimates that 15.3% of kids between ages 6 and 11 are obese—they are really, really fat. And all that time with our kids isn’t doing parents much good either—32.2% of adults are really, really fat.

But we seemingly aren’t teaching them much about morals and good manners during said “quality time.” Instead, we’re raising kids who hoist a 14-foot “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner, get suspended from school for it, then take a First Amendment case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, represented by none other than President Clinton’s legal nemesis, Kenneth W. Starr.

OK, so that’s actually pretty cool.

But, then, consider this: We’re also raising kids whose claim to fame is having the nation’s smelliest shoes, won this year by a 13-year-old girl from Utah. That may, in fact, be a corollary to moms spending so much more time with their kids. Mothers are doing 40% less housework now than they did 38 years ago so they can suck up to their little darlings. Either way, it just stinks.

Kids today also have no respect for authority. We’re raising kids who wear Tigger knee socks—Tigger knee socks!!!—to school in clear violation of the school’s dress code. Hopefully, the girl’s foot linens were at least clean. This wasn’t the first time the 14-year-old has been disciplined. She was sent home earlier for wearing T-shirt with—wait for it—a drug prevention message!

The Napa, California, school authorities probably would have put her up against the wall and shot her for a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” shirt.

Much of the “quality time,” of course, is spent shuttling the sniffling brats to sports, Scouts, music lessons, church activities, and the like. All time is structured, to the point that kids are lost without it.

As a result, their growth is stifled. A 2003 study determined that Americans don’t begin adulthood until age 26. In the 1950s, women married and left home at age 18. Today’s average kid lives with mom and dad until age 21.2. Heck, they don’t even get a full-time job until then. They don’t marry until well into their quarter-century and have kids a year later than that. If we keep this up, parents will be dead before the kids move out.

Of course, if they truly never grow up, they have a great future as entertainers. Short Entertainment, which books dwarfs for parties and other live events, is expected to double its profits this year over last.

But I digress. The point is we’re not doing our children any favors by fulfilling their every whim. Perhaps we should take a page out of the animal kingdom. If guinea hen chicks can’t keep up with mom, mom leaves them behind. Mama pandas give birth to twins, then kill the least favored offspring. Female lions, mice, and monkeys abandon their newborns when a stud muffin wanders into their orbit. Those who survive are strong. They leave home long before they’re 21.

Which just means ….

Oops. Gotta go. I hear my daughters yelling at me, wanting to know if I’ve finished their homework yet. See ya.


Associated Press. “Americans Aren't Adults Until Reaching Age 26.” Salt Lake Tribune. 9 May 2003.

“Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity.” Weight-control Information Network. 25 March 2007.

Angier, Natalie. “One Thing They Aren’t: Maternal.” New York Times. 9 May 2006.

Colker, David. Times Staff Writer. “Opportunities grow for little performers.” Los Angeles Times. 17 March 2007.,1,5506542.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-business

Friedman, Lisa. Washington Bureau. “FCC panel to tackle TV, child obesity.” Los Angeles Daily News. 23 Feburary 2007.

Greenhouse, Linda. “Court Hears Whether a Drug Statement Is Protected Free Speech for Students.” New York Times. 20 March 2007.

Greenleigh, Alicia. “Stinky sneakers in ‘Hall of Fumes.’” Salt Lake Tribune. 21 March 2007.

Marshall, Carolyn. “Pooh Character Leads to Suit on Dress Code.” New York Times. 22 March 2007.

St. George, Donna. Washington Post Staff Writer. “Despite ‘Mommy Guilt,’ Time With Kids Increasing.” Washington Post. 20 March 2007. Page A01.

St. George, Donna. Washington Post Staff Writer. “Fathers Are No Longer Glued to Their Recliners.” Washington Post. 20 March 2007. Page A11.


(Editor's note: No one should go hungry during these trying times. If you have the means, please donate to your local food bank. Even a dollar goes a long way. Simply search "food banks near me" to find one. If you're in need, please contact them for help.)


Tom Pfeifer is president and CEO of Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

Do you write? Do you want to be inspired by successful writers? Sign up for 52 Motivational Writer's Quotes, delivered to your inbox every Monday!​​

Tom Pfeifer's Blog