I know what you are thinking! This is an educator telling me to let my child fail. How can that be? It may sound absurd and even counterculture in our perfection seeking society. I want to share with you something I am slowly realizing as a mom of three children of my own. Allowing your children to experience failure early on in life can be one of the single best decisions you make as a parent. Kids need to fail sometimes! There, I said it! Before you write me off as a stressed-out, crazy, working mom, let me explain why I believe this to be true.
We have a natural tendency to want to make everything the best it can possibly be for our children. We feel it is our responsibility to protect, provide, and even rescue them so they will have every opportunity for success. But let’s just face the facts! Even the Bible tells us in John 16:33 that we will face trouble in this world. Struggles and failures are a part of our stories. Can you think of one person who doesn’t experience trials in life? Me either! So how can we expect our children to grow into competent adults without allowing them to become responsible for their mistakes or giving them the opportunity to persevere through challenges? I’m preaching to the choir when I say, “stop hovering and give your kids room to fail.”
None of us intend to teach our children to be helpless. Every time we bring forgotten homework to school or go back to wake them up after they hit snooze on the alarm clock five times, we are creating children who are more parent-dependent, less likely to learn from mistakes, or lack the ability to cope with consequences. I remember once when my oldest son left his C-team football jersey in an away locker room. His coach made him run after practice the next day. I’m talking about the kind of sprinting where he ran until he got sick. That was not an easy thing for me to watch as a mom. But, guess what? He never forgot his jersey again. He would even check behind his team mates to ensure they would never experience the consequences of a forgotten jersey. I could have turned around that day to let him retrieve the jersey and saved him from some physical pain and a little humiliation. I have to admit that while I watched him run, I was wishing I would have turned that car around. Looking back on it now, I would have denied him a valuable life lesson. Our country is beginning to experience an epidemic of well-intended parents with adult children who fail to launch because we want to protect them from the very lessons that may eventually change them.
All of us want to help our children reach their full potential. Failure is not usually part of that plan. So as you begin to let your child learn some hard life lessons, you will discover that you are doing more to develop their potential than ever before. I can say from experience that allowing your children to fail is never easy! It takes a lot of prayer and faith in the plan God has for their lives. Remember in John 16:33 when Jesus told us that we will have trouble? He follows that with this promise, “Take heart! I have overcome the world!” So think about that the next time your child experiences something that requires him or her to deal with a difficulty or consequence. There is no failure that your child can experience that is too big for God. Let your kids fail, trust in God’s plan, and watch as they grow stronger and more equipped to deal with all that life will throw their way.