Balance Facts with Feelings

Here’s a conversation between a father and her daughter.

Father: Didn’t you have a test recently?

Daughter: Yes, I did.

Father: How did you do in the test?

Daughter: I scored 65 out of 100.

If you were the father, what would you say next? 

I have observed that most of the conversations with our children largely remain in the factual realm. We ask and share about things that happened, what was said and done. Hardly do we venture into the emotional realm and speak of how we feel or how events of the day affect us emotionally. 

In the father-daughter dialogue we have just witnessed, both of them have remained in the factual realm, exchanging information about happenings. As a follow up, some fathers may diplomatically ask “What do you think you can do to do better next time?” This is definitely a much better response than getting angry at the girl’s poor grade. Would you agree? But still, it is about facts – what can you do. 

I want to encourage fathers to learn to balance facts with feelings in their daily conversations with their children. This is important as it can help your children increase their emotional intelligence. Steering a conversation towards the emotion realm is easy. Simply ask (and answer) the question “How does that make you feel?” Besides improving empathy and emotional intelligence, you will learn much more about your children. Now, let’s see how this can work in the father-daughter dialogue in progress.

Father: How do you feel about it?

There are two possible scenarios from here on. To this question, the daughter might answer, “I am happy” or “I am disappointed.” 

Scenario #1

Daughter: I am happy.

Father: Tell me more.

Daughter: Before the test, our teacher had warned us that it would be a very difficult test. Many of my friends and I thought that we would fail. Surprisingly, I scored a 65. So I’m happy.

Father: Oh, I see.

Scenario #2

Daughter: I am disappointed.

Father: Tell me more.

Daughter: I had studied very hard for this test and thought I would do well. But I scored only 65. So, I am disappointed.

Father: Oh, I see.

Can you see how a simple question like “How does it make you feel?” or “How do you feel about it?” can open up a conversation and reveal much more information than you would usually get? I hope that this has inspired you to be bold to enter the emotional realm in your conversations with your child. 

This article is written by Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering