June 17, 2010

LKL Web Exclusive: Sally Quinn on the importance of parenting

Posted: 10:51 AM ET

By Sally Quinn, Washington Post columnist and co-moderator of "On Faith."  Quinn is married to former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, and they have one son together.

So often we hear people say how important it is to spend “quality” of time with our children. I couldn’t agree more. But I think equally important is the “quantity” of time as well. In today’s world where mothers and fathers both work and where everyone seems to be stressed out and overextended, parents are spending less and less time with their children. And those children are left to their own devices (staring at some sort of screen.)

It’s hard to criticize these harassed parents who clearly love their children and want to do right by them.

I might well have been one of these mothers had my son Quinn Bradlee (my husband is Ben Bradlee) not been born with a heart defect, many other medical problems and serious learning disabilities. I was lucky I had the luxury of staying home and taking care of him. He was sick, sometimes critically so, for years. There were many parents at Children’s Hospital in Washington, where Quinn spent so much of his early life, who weren’t as fortunate. Often they were single parents who lived far away, had full time jobs, had other children at home, were the sole breadwinners and had no support from friends or families. I often wondered how they did it. Their plight certainly kept me from feeling sorry for myself.

Sometimes I wonder too, if Quinn had not been so sick and had so many problems, if we would have been the kind of parents we wanted to be. Would we have spent the kind of time with him that we did, that eventually shaped his life and gave him the confidence to be someone who believed he could conquer anything? Certainly the fact that we were older played a role in our circumstances. Ben was sixty and I was forty when he was born. Both of us were established in our careers and Ben had more time to devote to raising a child than he had ever had before. However, he had never had a sick child and I worried at first that he might not take an interest in his new son who was unable to do so many things that other children could do. Men are generally not as good with babies as women are and Ben was no different.

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Filed under: Ben Bradlee • LKL Web Exclusive • Sally Quinn

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