When my two oldest sons were young, maybe 3 and 5 years old, I unintentionally developed a habit. You could called them family evaluations, or even parental performance evaluations. At first, my husband kind of shook his head as he heard me questioning our boys. But over time, he has grown to appreciate these conversations and even participates now. Our early conversations went something like this,
Me: “What do you enjoy about our family?”
5-year-old: “When we play outside”
3-year-old: *silence* as he fidgets, trying to get out of bed
Me: “What could I do to be a better mommy for you?”
5-year-old: “Make better food for dinner.”
3-year-old: “Give me more candy.”
Family Evaluations change as the children get older
I would breathe a sigh of relief at their simple and somewhat superficial answers. I was afraid their answers would focus on the fact I worked outside the home and maybe they really didn’t like their daycare, needed more time with me or that, overall, I was failing in this role. Their simple answers made me feel like perhaps I was doing an OK job and served as a reminder that children aren’t harsh critics. After all, I was well aware of my challenges in the kitchen and while I assured them I would work on it, I knew incremental improvements were the most likely scenario for that particular metric.
These periodic “parenting performance evals” have continued through the years, mostly at random times and have facilitated important conversations. As the boys have grown in maturity, their insights are beneficial in thinking about our relationships and ways we can better engage with and support one another. During these conversations we talk about what is important to each member of the family, understanding that if family vacations rank at the top, then compromises may need to be made elsewhere on the list to make vacations a priority in terms of budgeted time and finances. We also use this type of evaluation in our marriage in trying to determine how we can continue to grow our relationship, better support and encourage one another in our shared and personal goals.
I would encourage you to consider how some type of reflection and conversation about goals, strengths, challenges and hopes for the future fit in to your own family or other relationships in your life. There is no right or wrong way, just approaching the conversation with an open mind and heart. My hope is that this practice can provide insight and strengthen the relationships in your life the way it has for our own family!
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