It’s approaching the end of the school year, and as my son prepares for a variety of exams and final papers, I think about the report card.
Not his. Mine.
As he continues his last push toward graduation, I find myself wondering what sort of marks I would receive as his parent. Of course, I wish I’d thought to do this two or three years ago, when I could have responded to feedback and adjusted accordingly.
During my corporate career, performance reviews were a regular part of the ongoing work process. Not only were there planned annual evaluations – hierarchical, team, and peer processes – but informally touching base with co-workers and managers was the norm.
Who doesn’t need feedback – preferably in a constructive, ongoing fashion?
Performance reviews are a tried-and-true tool, so why wouldn’t they offer transferable value in parenting – or other aspects of our lives? Isn’t this exactly the concept behind the progress reports to parents in between report cards, so no one is surprised at the end of the semester? So you have a chance to prevent failure?
And while we’re evaluating the applicability of, well… evaluating – why not introduce a similar concept into our relationships? Our marriages?
Some of us hold family meetings that involve children, but do couples periodically review their interactions? Their efforts and accomplishments when it comes to communication, to shared affection, to dividing up the household tasks, to simply having fun together? Oh – I’m not proposing a formalized meeting mind you, but then again, why not an occasional discussion of how things are going, and with specifics?
Parenting, Single Parenting, Veto Power
As a single / solo parent, I’ve tried to listen, observe, and adjust my style over the years. When you’re carrying the ball alone, it’s easy to be so focused on forging ahead that you’re afraid to hesitate. To show weakness or to consider alternatives. But sometimes children will suggest them, directly or through their behaviors.
So what about it?
- Would you ask your kids to complete a report card for you?
- What subject matter would you include for grading purposes?
- Should we – as mothers and fathers – ask our kids devise a scoring system, and assess our performance?
Naturally, we would reserve the right to “weight” their judgments with our adult perspective, and to provide the starter-kit of topics for grading and discussion. But what if we also let them add their criteria? Wouldn’t this lead to revelations, possible paths for improvement, and likely a lot of laughter?
Assessing and Adjusting
Looking ahead to this weekend, and a Mother’s Day that will likely be very low-key, the best gift would be high marks from my sons on my parenting performance.
As for relationships, you never know who you haven’t met yet, or if you’ve met someone special who may eventually play a significant role. In that light, my romantic report card will wait, and I’ll see what the future may bring. As for that topical assessment, I imagine the subject matter would be a little different, and likewise, any celebration of a favorable outcome.