I had an experience with my kids last night that inspired me to record an important moment for us that hopefully inspires many future moments for our family. I was running on my treadmill yesterday afternoon, feeling more guilty than usual for the hour a day I take from the many things I could be doing for my family in order to run. I wondered and worried if I was screwing my kids up by not going and doing for them while I’m down there each day, and pondering many other of my self-perceived shortcomings. There is really no sense in trying to reason me out of this thought process. That has been tried and has failed many times. I struggle each day to not be consumed with worry over my inadequacies as a parent to meet every need of each of my children to the fullest. I am grateful for my faith that allows me to surrender my worries to God and let him work and move in me and my children, but I know that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of selfless work he expects from me in parenting these children, and I don’t want to miss any boats. Too much is at stake!
What I honestly want is not my, potentially delusional, assumptions about where I am falling short as a parent to guide my thoughts and actions. I genuinely want to know from my kids’ perspectives where they think I could better channel my efforts so I can make a proactive plan to work on any shortcomings or issues within our family, if at all possible, while they are still young. So I thought, “I wonder if there is already a thorough, parent, report card I could find online to give my children the opportunity to grade my performance as their mom.”
I did some research and came up with one that looked pretty good. (https://www.today.com/parents/parent-report-card-lets-kids-grade-mom-dad-t9111) I allowed myself some time to get my heart right in order to make sure I was going to be OK with hearing less than positives things about myself. Then I sat them down after dinner to grade me. I made sure I didn’t get too busy to read through their reports and talk through the areas where they thought I could stand some improvement.
I have to admit, I was sufficiently shocked by some of their responses. By-and-large, I received high grades, and many of those grades were in areas where I struggle with tremendous insecurity. Conversely, I was also shocked by some of the areas where they thought I needed improvement. We sat down for probably 2 hours and walked through those areas one-by-one as a group to begin with. (Soon I plan to sit with each of them one-on-one to talk through them individually.) There was laughter and memories and appreciation, but there was also hurt and struggle, and the tears began to flow for all of us. Since I homeschool my kids 3 days a week, I feel like they have ample time to come to me and talk with me about anything. I really try to make myself available, but I think it’s hard for kids to articulate their feelings in meaningful ways. Plus, they know we are often pushed to our max or will shut them down for lack of time, willingness or patience.
I think the real difference was made last night because I opened my heart and my schedule to hear them out and gave them space to share their hearts in constructive ways. They didn’t have to pull thoughts, good or less-than-good, out of the thin air in order to review my parenting. I gave them a pretty thorough starting point and allowed them to write notes if they had more thoughts that were inspired by the questions.
I face today with an arsenal of proactive thoughts and actions to improve my relationships with my children. I want them to know that I heard their concerns and will work on addressing the ones that I can, admitting that some of their issues have no solutions or are even simply bad attitudes they have allowed to color their view of things. Hey, they are imperfect little humans too, and they will have some work to do for things to truly get better for themselves. However, I feel like many issues now have names and faces that I can address specifically in order to fine tune my efforts toward meeting each of my children’s needs right where they are.
I realized in giving the version I found online to my kids that it didn’t exactly fit our lives or their thought processes, so I have adapted it to create my own version for next time we do this. My version is the one I’ve posted here. Feel free to contact me if you want a Microsoft Word version for printing or altering to fit your own family. (email@example.com) Let me know (in the comments or otherwise) if you tried this with your own kids and how it went. Blessings on you and your willingness and courage to really listen to and love on your children.
*Please forgive any grammatical errors that I know are there, but can’t see for myself.