I’ll admit it. I’m afraid for my kids to fail. It’s not that I want them to be perfect, overly accomplished or achieve the material affluence that can come with success. I just have this momma-bear instinct that I want to protect them from the disappointment and pain that comes from not succeeding.
But here’s the problem: Kids will fail. And we need to teach them how to deal with it in a healthy way. Sometimes failure is the best teacher. As I reflect on my life, I realize some of the most blessed moments have been when God closed a door on me. I grew as a person or as a doctor. And something better usually came along that I had never imagined.
At times it feels to me that American society tries to convince kids and parents that failure is something to be feared. Everyone gets a trophy. Every opinion is accepted. Being told “no you can’t have” is framed as a huge defeat, a term of denial rather than of balance and acceptance.
It seems better and more realistic messages to our kids are
- Not everything works out every time.
- You cannot do or have everything you want — and that is OK!
Letting kids fail and stumble in the short term may feel uncomfortable for parents, but in the long term, kids develop resiliency and the skills to handle life’s wobbles.