Timely Feedback Can Empower Dads To Be Even Better Fathers

Photos: Courtesy of David, Geoffrey, and Alexis

Timely Feedback Can Empower Dads to Be Even Better Fathers

Uncovering the A-star Dad

By Susan Koh | 16 June 2021

As parents, conversations surrounding a report card may be daunting dialogues to have with our school-going children.

Regardless of how our children have fared in their tests, it’s important to sit them down and evaluate what they did well and not so well. This will help us address areas where they can focus and improve on in the future. After all, we want to encourage a growth mindset in our kids and ensure they are learning from every experience.

But what if the tables were turned and your child becomes the one giving you a report card?

This Father’s Day, we invited 3 fathers – David, Geoffrey, and Alexis – and gave their kids the task of grading their dad’s parenting skills.

Will the dads be confident of scoring straight As?

How will they respond when they are in the hot seat, receiving their report cards from their children?

If you are ready to get a daddy performance appraisal from your kids, here are 8 tips to help you make it an enriching experience.

  1. Rethink your assumptions
    When asking for feedback, be sure to set your assumptions aside. Even though David makes a conscious effort to practise active listening whenever he’s with his son, he was surprised to learn that Perez did not feel the same way.

    “I was under the assumption that I had been listening well to my son. But when I probed further, Perez explained that he gave me a B for "listens well to me" because I have been occupied on my mobile phone and pay less attention to him when he speaks.”

    David made sure he took Perez’s comments to heart and gave his son permission to call him out if he was not paying full attention.
  2. Take feedback constructively
    Be prepared for both positive and negative responses when we ask our children for feedback. Try not to take offence at their feedback as it is not an attack on your parenting.

    Although Perez gave David a B for "supports and believes in me", David chose not to feel defeated. Instead he suggested action pointers and even enlisted his son as his accountability buddy.

    David said, “Perez was excited to help me make a change. He is committed to remind me if I am too quick to judge and nudge me to seek clarification before coming to conclusions.”

    The report has helped me to identify areas of improvements needed even though I assumed I am doing well in my role as a father.

  3. Feedback requires an open relationship
    An effective “report card” conversation would be unachievable if the relationship between father and son is missing, as David observed.

    “Without a strong relational foundation, it would be difficult for my son to give genuine feedback. The report has helped me to identify areas of improvements needed even though I assumed I am doing well in my role as a father. But most of all, this Dad’s report card has given me much encouragement knowing that I have been a good model to Perez.”

    It’s not just about my physical presence at home but how I’m connecting with her during those moments that translate to meaningful quality time.

  4. Understand what your child values
    Geoffrey has been working from home and spending more time with his two girls due to the tightened COVID restrictions. Naturally, he expected his increased presence at home to score him an A for "spends quality time with me". However his older daughter, Faith, thought otherwise especially since her love language is quality time.

    “Upon reflection, I realised that as Faith grows older, quality time with her needs to be more intentional. It’s not just about my physical presence at home but how I’m connecting with her during those moments that translate to meaningful quality time.”
  5. Never stop trying
    Even though we gain some parenting experience over time, a great parent never stops learning how to be more effective.

    That’s why while Geoffrey is satisfied with the many A grades he received from Faith, he is quick to add that his goal as a father is not done.

    He said, “My report card shows there are still areas I need to make progress in. I see this as an opportunity to show Faith that Daddy is also learning to be a better father myself.”

    When fathers model humility, their children will develop greater respect for them as they walk the talk about learning for life.
  6. See how you and your spouse complement each other
    Although the focus of the feedback session was on Geoffrey’s parenting, his daughter made numerous comparisons of him to her mother. However, Geoffrey wasn’t offended that his wife trumped him; instead he had a newfound respect for his better half.

    “If anything, this exercise highlighted the fact that I have a supportive wife who more than makes up for the role in areas that I received a C grade. This is not an excuse to relinquish the role of parenting solely to her because of her merits, but it shows me that I can step up more to support her.”

    Indeed, parenting is a team effort and very often, mothers play a complementary role in the areas that fathers lack. David also recognised this as he reflected: “A key area that I need to work on is keeping calm when I’m angry.” Whenever tempers flare, David’s wife would sometimes step in as a mediator between father and son to give David the space to recollect his emotions and calm himself down.

    Remember to acknowledge the positives and celebrate what makes you a hero in your child’s eyes.

  7. Put the feedback into action
    If your child brings up a particular behaviour of yours over and over again, don’t disregard it. In Alexis’s case, the report card from his daughter was a reality check to take his daughter’s feedback seriously.

    “I realised how lightly I have taken Sophie’s feedback on my temper in the past as I thought it was intended as good-natured ribbing.”

    Knowing that his anger issues could potentially push him away from his daughter, Alexis became more resolved to control his temper. Whenever he feels himself simmering in anger, he would call for a time out to avoid reaching his breaking point and reacting harshly.
  8. Celebrate your strengths
    Even though there may be areas for improvement, don’t get discouraged. Remember to acknowledge the positives and celebrate what makes you a hero in your child’s eyes.

    “I’m heartened that Sophie graded me highly for spending time with her and having fun with her. Being silly has been an effective way to diffuse tense moments between us and I’m happy that she still regards me as the Chief Fun Officer (CFO) at home,” beamed Alexis.

Practise the skills of receiving feedback from your child the same way you approach your performance appraisal with your boss. Even though this exercise will not lead to promotions or bonuses, it shows your children that their opinion matters to the hero in their lives.

So go ahead and gather their feedback. Listen with the intention of truly understanding what matters to them. Your kids will appreciate the effort you’re putting in to become a truly A-star dad.

© 2021 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.


To continue on your lifelong journey towards becoming a better dad, invite your child to fill up this Dad’s Report Card today!

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