Last week my intention was to write a single blog about this subject, but then things didn’t go as planned, because there was just too much “stuff” I needed to cover to do the topic justice.
So I cut things off at a point where I was hitting my self-imposed word limit (around 700) and figured that sleeping on the subject for another 6 days would truly inspire me to wrap things up in a fantastic crescendo finish. We shall see.
At the end of part 1, Tell it to the Judge (Part 1 of 2) we had begun to look at how parents are judged.
My argument was that the only people who are truly in a position to judge the parenting abilities of anyone, are their “subjects”, i.e. the children that they raised.
In the same way that my sisters and I are the best possible judges of the parenting abilities of our mother and father, my parenting abilities can only really be properly judge by my children
Assuming you buy into my argument (thanks!), let’s look at some of the issues this also brings up. The first one is the timing. When are they actually in a position to judge?
An infant will judge Mommy and Daddy by how quickly they change a soiled diaper or give them a bottle when they are hungry. Many years later in life, they may judge their parents by what has been left to them in the parents’ last will and testament.
That potentially leaves a LOT of time in between, and there are many points where their opinions of their parents can and will change.
Many people agree that the teenage years are the most challenging for parents, and so asking teens to judge and evaluate their parents could lead to some interesting responses.
A lot of adults will look back at the time when they were teens as a period when they did not appreciate their parents enough. It takes a certain amount of maturity to fully get the fact that discipline imposed by parents pays off in the long run.
By the time you hit the point where you realize that you need to worry more about your parents than they do about you, you are certainly mature enough to judge the job that they did raising you.
So what is this fascination that I have with judgement of parents all about? Allow me to try to sum it up. I believe that the “job” of parents is to take parenting seriously, and to make rasing their children a top priority in their lives.
As an advisor to business families, I get to meet with many people who have made running and growing their business a higher priority than parenting. I also believe that many of the people who have put business above family will eventually regret it.
The book I wrote in 2014, SHIFT your Family Business, had this as its secondary title: “Stop working IN your family business, Start working ON your business family. It is kind of my “go to” message.
The good news is that it is never too late to make that shift. But it does require courage. Running a business also takes courage, but sometimes it is easier to be courageous in the cutthroat world of business than amongst your family.
I don’t know why that is, but I just feel like I see it too often for it not to be true.
It also takes courage to ask your children to give you feedback on your parenting. I know that most parents will never ask their kids this type of question, and I suppose some people would call me crazy for even suggesting it.
I like to think that I am doing a good job as a parent, but if I never ask my kids what they think, how will I know?
Why should I care? Because I take my job as a parent seriously. And their feedback can help me do it better. But do I have the courage to ask them? Stay tuned to this space for the answer.