Imagine if there is an annual performance appraisal done for our role as parent, how would you reckon our children or spouse would rate our performance and contribution to the family? Is there going to be a bonus this year?
Well, 2021 is coming to an end! How has your year been for you? What are you happy and proud of? If you could rewind the days, what would you do differently as a parent? What is your key learning for the year?
It’s worth taking time to ponder and reflect on how we are doing as a parent especially in such a time like this – post pandemic. We might be tempted to just put all our focus and efforts to rebuild our personal goals and career to make up for the past two years, but then totally miss the important areas in the home front.
How Did I Do as a Parent?
Recently, I candidly asked my 3 kids, “Hey, if you were to grade daddy like a school report card for this year, what would it be?” I was a little anxious when they took the question seriously, paused and thought about it.
During my precious conversation with my family, I got some insights and learning that helped prepare me for next year’s journey of becoming a better dad.
Here is my Dad’s Reflection for 2021:
1. Be the Change You Want to See!
It all begins with us; our children get easily irked when they see the hypocrisy in us. I realize that when we walk the talk, our words and actions carry more weight. However, it takes lots of intentional effort to ensure that we role model what we want to see.
Take for example, there were few occasions where I told my children to put the laptop away as it was time to get ready for bed. One time, my youngest daughter looked bluntly into my eyes and asked innocently, “Daddy, then how about you?” I was lost for words and felt kind of guilty even though I was catching up with some work.
Here’s what I heard recently from a pastor in a wedding ceremony. It starts with me to encourage the behavior that I would love to see in my marriage and family.
See something good, say it!
Think of something special, do it!
If you want change, be it!
2. Correction without Connection can lead to Condemnation
This is the sore eye area in my parent report card. I was told that I am quick to judge and jump into conclusion based on what I see, with little space for explanation and clarification. As I reflected, I found myself having high expectations, correcting my kids like a Sergeant Major without much empathy and grace.
There were many times, I came down in the morning and found that my son had not cleaned up after the dog. It was an agreement that it was his responsibility. So, in order to not let him slack, I would be very quick to ask why it hasn’t been done and sometimes jump in to do it, which made him feel bad.
After numerous times, whenever he saw me in the morning, I couldn’t understand why he had a sour face on, when I felt that I was just trying to help him be a responsible kid. In the process of my good intention in teaching them about right and wrong, I had unintentionally shut them down emotionally. I was more eager to address the behavior rather than the person in them.
This humbling experience reminded me of how important it is to first build trust and connection in order to create a safe space for conversation before correction. This is vital to avoid leading to the feeling of condemnation which actually pushes them away from me.
3. It is NORMAL!… DON’T GIVE UP!
Well, coming back to my parent report card. To be honest I was pretty confident that I had done a great job this year and was stoked to hear the praises from my kids (at least that’s what I had in my mind!).
Surprisingly, I didn’t get any A’s! The closest I got was B+ (well, my daughter tried to make me feel better and changed it to A- after that). Not a result I am proud to share.
I felt like I had tried but yet it wasn’t enough. Even a parenting program facilitator can be far from having it all. In these moments, I feel like I don’t qualify because I myself have challenges and am not perfect.
However, I have learned from many experienced parent educators who have gone before me that IT IS NORMAL!
I am reminded that these difficult experiences are the best teachers, they are there to mould me to be a better dad. As long as I recognize the amazing privilege and responsibility given by God, to see the good and potential of my children and keep working at myself to bring the best out of my kids, I will persevere on!!
So, parents, I concluded that my report card is not there to judge whether I am a good dad or not, or even whether I am loved or not; but to create a platform for conversation to hear from my children’s perspectives on what I can do better in my journey of becoming the dad that God had intended me to be.
Go ahead, take some time for your 2021 reflection. May you find strength and solace as you reflect on the year with a heart of humility and gratefulness.
You can download our free template to guide you if you need a hand to do a family reflection activity and plan for the new year. Enjoy!
Kelvin is a loving husband and an intentional father of three wonderful kids. If you get to know him, you will very soon find his passion for creating life lessons out of the daily conundrum, and understanding people’s second level of thinking for new insights.
In his free time, he is outside playing with the kids or digesting an interesting read (reflecting). And if possible, you will find him on a full turf doing what he loves most — playing football!