By Dr. Yanina Gomez, mom of a teen & tween
Every day moms from all over the world are re-directing, guiding and correcting their child’s behavior regardless of their age. From sunrise to sunset, we’re modeling proper behavior for our children, teaching healthy social skills and helping them replace bad habits with healthier ones. Whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally, we do evaluate our children’s performance regardless of their age. I can hear moms saying:
That’s not nice!
What do we say?
Keep your voice down young lady!
I don’t like your attitude right now.
Apologize to your sister… Look at her!
Honey, Jenny is not a good friend for you. She’s into crazy stuff and is mean to you.
At the end of the day, we want to raise a well-rounded child that will become a happy, independent and confident person.
So, whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly evaluating our kids’ performance and correcting anything that doesn’t look good. We see a bad habit or poor choice and re-direct it right on the spot! But, what about us moms? Who’s evaluating our performance? Are we doing some things that are hurting or annoying our kids without even knowing it? Are we aware of the things we’re doing that are making a difference in our child’s life? Who’s to say?
When my oldest son was 5 and youngest daughter was 3, my husband and I realized that we, as parents, needed a Parent Evaluation. You see, we all receive performance evaluations at work with the goal of identifying our personal strengths and pinpoint areas that need improvement. In many cases, salary increase is based on the results of your performance evaluation.
As parents, we don’t have a board, managers or committee members evaluating our performance.
So, who’s the most qualified person to let you know which are your strengths or areas that need some tweaking and adjustments so you can become a better mom? Not your in-laws… your children!
My husband and I sat on our family room’s black couch during a cold winter stormy morning. We started a fire on our fireplace and called our children downstairs to join us for a meeting. Our son knew how meetings run since he had come with us to quite a few meetings. On the other hand, our 3-years old daughter was too young to understand what on earth was going on. She simply sat down next to me, looking at me with her big round brown eyes waiting to hear what I had to say.
“Kids, I said, papa (‘dad’ in Spanish) and I need to know if we are doing a good job as your mom and dad. We want to know how you think we can be better parents.
So… (I went first as the brave mom I am ?) What is your favorite thing about me?”
We let them answer the question and listen to what they have to say. Our son said that he likes when I cook for him (Poor child, he doesn’t know better. I’m not that great of a cook, LOL!). And our daughter said in her sweet gentle voice: “I like it when you cuddle with me.” Then, they went on to say the things they like about their dad.
Then, I ask the question many parents dread asking:
“What is the thing you don’t like that much about me?”
Our son was very quick to answer: “When you yell at us. It really scares me and my sister.” Speaking of a weapon of mass destruction! Boom! I felt like a bomb just hit me. How can my own children be scared of me? I am their protector, #1 fan, I only want what’s best for them, I am their mom… Yet, I was unintentionally hurting my children. My dear fabulous mom, if I would’ve not asked these tough questions to my children, who knows how this story would’ve ended.
That was THE day that I decided to stop yelling at my children.
Since then, we’ve been having our quarterly Parenting Evaluations. Sometimes we meet over breakfast, at a coffeehouse or go over it while driving. I can tell you that these conversations have brought us closer together. They are not afraid to express their feelings about how we’re parenting them, whether it’s good or not that great. But they know, it has to be done respectfully.
Our rules are simple:
Accusations, pointing fingers or judgmental statements are NOT allowed.
Now that they’re older, we’ve adjusted the questions.
What do you enjoy/like about me (mom and dad)?
What do you think I should work on or change to be a better mom/dad?
Dear mom, I encourage you to sit down with your kids and ask them these tough questions. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t get defensive or upset. Instead, lead the conversation so it doesn’t become disrespectful or accusatory. The more you do this, the more comfortable you and your children will be. Children are used to be disciplined or scolded over and over again.
How do you think your child will feel when s/he has the opportunity to respectfully tell you what s/he thinks about you? How empowering this can be! As you give your child the opportunity to share with you what s/he loves and dislikes about you, you’re connecting with her at a deeper level. Believe me, she’ll admire your guts! We all need to improve and grow. Let your child help you become the mom you long to be! As for my husband and I, we’ll continue our parenting evaluation as we have grown so much as a result of our tween and teen’s feedback.
Have you experienced a situation in which your child helped you grow as a mom? I would love to hear your story! Share it below!