How Did We Do? These Inquiring Parents Wanted to Know.
Many wise companies provide an exit interview when you leave their employment. The human resource staff will ask about your experience at the company. “So, how did we do? What would you change? Where did we come up short, and where did we excel?” So, why not conduct an exit interview when your adult offspring move out of the house (for the first time – not when they come back for random reasons).
The intention is not for us to do a better job with our future children , but to get a fair assessment (can this really be fair and honest?) of how we did as Parents.
I needed input from Jessica’s siblings to paint a comprehensive picture of what it was like growing up in our family.
The interview did not occur to me until I started writing my book, Raising Jess: A Story of Hope. Jessica’s story was not just about Jess. Our total family dynamics, flaws, and successes also contributed to our narrative and provides an answer to the question; “So how did we do?”
Our Son Alex Answered the Call
First, I called my son, “Alex, please let me interview you for the book. But before you say yes or no, I need you to be honest! This book won’t work if we pretend it was all fabulous.” Alex considered my request and, with a hint of sarcasm, replied, “When was I ever not honest! Just make sure you write what I say! “And can I have a bigger chapter than Carly?” I rolled my eyes to this request, “Alex, you are 35 years old, stop competing with your younger sister!”
Alex gave a beautiful interview using his keen insights and humor. His final quote to our exchange, “I would like to say Jess gave me more patience, but I have no patience.” He told me he was going to be honest!
Our Daughter Carly’s Conversation
Carly’s interview was completed while she was exercising on the elliptical. Our distracted conversation was a terrific strategy, although it was not preplanned.
Talking and exercising removes a lot of the inhibitions, and our conversation was free-flowing and enlightening. She sweated from exercise, and I sweated from the anticipation of what was going to come from our interview. She spoke, and I listened. I wrote her words impartially (as possible), knowing I would process later.
There were some contradictions such as Alex thought we went on many trips, whereas Carly thought our vacations were limited. Glad they didn’t have to provide testimony in court! Carly has clear memories of caring for Jessica during the October storm while Mitch and I were frantically trying to get home from work. Alex, on the other hand, had no memory of the hours watching Jess while Mitch and I were struggling to arrive home.
They did agree on other aspects of life in the Rubin household. Alex and Carly made it clear that they were never embarrassed about Jessica and were proud to introduce her as their sister. And they also both mentioned that Jessica’s vocal enthusiasm at Temple makes them squirm.
Is this a thing?
Do other parents offer the exit interview to their kids when they move out? In my opinion, it was an extraordinary experience. I think one key to the success of this strategy was to remain neutral while listening. If I were to react, remark, refute, or lay down and cry, the interview obviously would have failed. That is the hardest part of all but the only way to foster honesty.
The results of the interviews are revealed in the book.
The Rubin Progeny Exit Interview was a success because it opened an honest dialog and allowed our adult children to reflect with me about their childhood. The answer to, “So, how did we do?” was that we did OK. We fostered three wonderful, responsible adults who have empathy, compassion, and kindness.
Parents, give it a try, if you dare….
Maybe my next gig will be developing Exit Interviews for Families!
Have you done this with your kids? LMK firstname.lastname@example.org