So I asked my kids to give me a grade as a parent. I am not crazy and this served a good purpose. It also wasn’t my idea. Read here why I decided to use this approach to parenting this week.
First, a little background. I knew my kids had been frustrated lately. My normally very sweet 9-year-old was having quite a time of it and waking up in a grumpy mood (and taking it out on everyone) for the last week. Since she didn’t want to talk with me about what was bugging her, I decided another approach was necessary. Since I had just read about this technique from a favorite blogger of mine – We Are That Family, I decided to put it into practice.
Normally we sit as a family and do a “Key Jar” from another favorite blogger – Momastery. This jar asks questions and we take turn answering. It is pretty popular in the house. But I knew if I asked them to grade me, I would need to do it on an individual basis.
I first sat down with my middle child and asked her, “If you could give me a parenting grade, what would it be?” I knew she was not in a good mood and that would affect my “marks” she gave me. She immediately said, “I’d give you a D.” Wow. I was expecting it to be bad, but it is still a punch in the throat when said aloud.
I told her she had to tell me why. Finally, (after a week of not getting her to talk) she says, “because Kirsten (my 5-year-old) gets into all my stuff and you don’t do anything.” I think she was expecting me to retaliate, but instead I agreed with her and told her I was working on some new approaches since everything we tried up to this point hadn’t worked. I validated her feelings that I understood how upset she was.
I also told her, “When you are sad, I am sad. Let’s work on this together.”
After a week of her feeling like I didn’t understand and not wanting to talk about it, we had a much-needed conversation. After the conversation she says, “I really feel better after talking with you.” I had to hold my tongue and not give the dreaded “I told you so or something similar.” This was something she had to come to terms with herself.
I also asked my teen daughter and got a C- from her. Her reasons were that we are in that stage where everything is a confrontation. She felt I only listened about 20% of the time to her side of things. I asked her how we could change that (I also specified I am not going to agree 100% of the time). She acknowledged her feelings can be a bit strong since she is a teen. Again, great conversation from a simple grade.
I did ask my 5-year-old the same question but she really hasn’t dealt with grades yet, so she couldn’t really comprehend the question.
Here is what is funny. I asked them to grade their father as well. He got better marks: a C and B- from the girls. But I am not bitter.
The best thing about this entire day was that when I got home from class tonight (I am studying psychology – how am I doing?), Berlyn and Kirsten together had painted a “Feel Better Box”. They had put some flowers, a stuffed animal, and pictures with the word sisters to be able to look at if they got to the point of feeling that frustrated again. Seriously, my heart, people, cannot handle the cuteness of their endeavor to make each other feel better. This is my sweet girl I know and love who shows compassion to others. I had missed her this week.
So what do you think? Would you ask the grade question to your children? Is your grade fair? How can this insight better help you as a parent? And is this courageous or insane? Please comment below so I can see how this has worked in other houses. Thanks!