A Parenting Report Card and what functional families provide

As parents, there is no shortage in wondering how we are doing with our children. We compare ourselves to other parents and our kids to their kids. We look for more and better ways to organize, to discipline, to reward. We look for tips on communicating, bonding and making memories. And we judge ourselves harshly when we feel like a failure.

So how are you doing as a parent? Perhaps the best one to grade you is your own child. Yes, their opinion of us is biased, but it will be close. And the information you may gain is invaluable. Your child is most likely used to being graded on a whole host of things in life, either directly or indirectly. You however, are not.

But before we grade, what will you be graded on?

What Functional Families Provide

We all know what dysfunctional looks like, either from our own experience or from someone we know. But what does functional look like? Well, Pia Melody has something to say about that. I recommend her books often. Here is her list of what a functional family provides:

  1. Provide clear rules
  2. Rules that are expected to be followed
  3. Rules that are possible to follow
  4. Rules that the adults follow too
  5. Support the child in learning to think for themselves
  6. Disagree with the child’s thinking while still valuing the child
  7. Provide a system for problem solving
  8. Reinforce the message that having problems to solve is normal
  9. Validate the child’s feelings without challenging their reality

In addition to these items, how does your child feel? I know feelings are subjective and sometimes situational, but they are a part of your child’s reality, which shapes their perception of the world around them. So does you child feel valued for who they are? Do they feel heard, as in their voice matters? Do they feel loved, like they belong in the family? And do they feel respected, like their boundaries are working?

And finally, in your home, is there more love than not? More trust than distrust? And more respect than disrespect?

Remember that perception trumps reality. Your child’s grading of you will be based on their experience and how they interpret things. You will disagree on some things, and you will have questions. You might even be tempted to challenge their perception. Don’t. Seek first to understand why they think and feel as they do. Validate their experience. Then you can dialogue about it.

Parenting Report Card

Here is your homework: Ask your child to grade you honestly and without fear of retribution using this form. If you have multiple children, have each of them complete a separate form. Remember, do not argue with or challenge your child’s answers. Seek to understand why they graded you the way they did first.

If you score an A, great! Keep up the good work. If you score anything below an A, then you have something to talk about with your child. And I don’t mean you doing the talking; your job is to listen.

Bonus Points

Feeling gutsy? Have your spouse or friend, someone who will be honest with you, complete the same report card on you. Aha… a more reputable source! Like I said, feeling gutsy?


Todd has been a therapist for over 20 years in a variety of settings. An unconventional therapist who tells the truth, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, and authored his first book, Simply Relate.

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