My favorite section in Ellen Galinsky’s Ask the Children has children separately grade (A, B, C, D, or F) their moms and dads in twelve areas:

1. Being there for me when I am sick?
2. Raising me with good values?
3. Making me feel important and loved?
4. Being able to attend important events in my life?
5. Appreciating me for who I am?
6. Encouraging me to want to learn and to enjoy learning?
7. Being involved with what is happening to me at school?
8. Being someone I can go to when I am upset?
9. Spending time talking with me?
10. Establishing family routines and traditions with me?
11. Knowing what is really going on in my life?
12. Controlling his/her temper when I do something that makes him/her angry?

Then moms and dads self-grade on the same questions (with the pronouns changed, of course).

Note: The kids and parents are two distinct samples, so we can’t compare what e.g. my kids say about me to what I say about myself.  However, we can compare what the average kid says about his parents to what the average parent says about himself.  What do we find?

First: The relative rankings of parents and kids are highly consistent.  If you calculate the GPA that parents give themselves for all twelve questions, and compare it to the GPA that kids give their parents, the correlation is .8.

Second: Kids give parents lower grades than parents give themselves, but everyone gives dads lower grades.  Here are average GPAs broken down by grader (kid or self) and gradee (mom or dad):

 Moms Dads Kid 3.14 2.98 Self 3.59 3.40

Here’s a simple summary regression.  ADULT is the GPA that parents give themselves on a question; KID is the GPA that kids give parents; MALE is a dummy variable equal to 1 for questions about dads, and 0 for questions about moms.

For me, though, the most interesting result is that there is one question where parents always earn the lowest marks: Controlling their tempers.  In fact, this is the only question where both parents and kids give parents a GPA<3.0.  Kids give their moms a 2.5; moms give themselves a 2.7; kids give their dads a 2.6; dads give themselves a 2.8.

I’m tempted to say that this shows that parents and kids would be better off if parents focused more on themselves.  Parents would feel better about their lives if they gave themselves a break; kids would indirectly benefit because their parents would express less anger toward them.  “See a movie on your way home from work – and smile at your kids when you get home,” would be my slogan.  But the fact that parents agree that they have an anger problem makes me wonder.  What do you think?

P.S. I’ve posted GPAs by respondent for all questions below the fold.

 Question Kid Male Adult 1 3.69 0 3.84 2 3.6 0 3.83 3 3.41 0 3.86 4 3.39 0 3.65 5 3.32 0 3.64 6 3.31 0 3.73 7 2.97 0 3.54 8 2.86 0 3.7 9 3.05 0 3.55 10 2.83 0 3.415 11 2.73 0 3.57 12 2.515 0 2.7 1 3.06 1 3.52 2 3.5 1 3.69 3 3.26 1 3.67 4 3.17 1 3.44 5 3.25 1 3.59 6 3.3 1 3.65 7 2.74 1 3.17 8 2.6 1 3.45 9 2.92 1 3.24 10 2.83 1 3.22 11 2.605 1 3.3 12 2.55 1 2.815