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Why Letting Your Kids Fail is a Very Good Thing

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I think one of the hardest things as a parent is letting my kids fail, but it is also something that is a necessary thing. Years give wisdom, and years are one thing that all parents have over their children. Most likely, you have a bit more wisdom, too.

As adults, we can look back on our lives and see all the crazy, stupid, and irresponsible things and laugh, but at the time, these things would not have been funny to our parents. Now, we are in the parental role, and sometimes when we see our kids doing things, we just know it won’t end well. These things generally are not funny to us either.

How do we know that certain things will bring failure?

Because chances are if you are like 99% of the population, you’ve learned that learning to fail is just part of life. Hopefully, it is through failing that we learn something. Oftentimes that something we learn gives way to something better.

letting kids fail

Just like us, our kids fail for all sorts of reasons. They fail because:

  • they took on too much
  • they planned poorly
  • they executed something poorly
  • they didn’t plan at all
  • sometimes they fail because the deck is stacked against them just as I wrote in When Your Child Has to Deal With a Cheater
  • kids fail because they don’t follow rules
  • kids fail because they are being selfish

These reasons for failure are only a brief overview since the possibilities are endless.

In two months I will officially be a mom to two teens and one tween as well as a younger diva type girl who has learned all kinds of tween and teen behavior and attitudes with two older sisters so I could really count her in this group as well. In light of that, I’ve got a total of FOUR teens/tweens. Then, there are three lively BOYS who follow under them.

With this bustling brood of young people, I have had a front row seat to watching my kids fail more times than I could count. Again there are times that it is my job as their mom to rescue them from failure, but for the most part the best thing I can do is to let them learn that learning to fail is a part of life. My prayer is also that their failures train them to become wiser.

Although we as parents watch our kids fail at times, we can come alongside them in their failure to help guide them. Dealing with our children and their failures can be a really effective relationship builder, too. It can provide us with the opportunity for some meaningful conversation.

Within this conversation, I am always sure to remind my kids of the benefits to failing at this time. 

  • The first benefit of failing while they are still living at home is that they are failing under the protection of my husband and I. We are still here to protect them and to shield them from the harshness of the consequences of living in the real world on their own. 

Let’s look at an example.

If our son were to get caught stealing a candy bar from a store, my husband and I would be here to help guide him through dealing with this situation. We can talk him through what needs to be done, be there as he returns the candy bar or pays for the candy bar, and help him take responsibility with the store manager.

  • The second benefit of failing while living at home means that the stakes are lower as a general rule.

An example would be as follows.

If my daughter oversleeps because she stayed up too late, because she forgot to set her alarm, or for another irresponsible reason and ends up being late to school, there would be consequences to being tardy or absent at school. Although this may not be pleasant, it would be a much smaller deal at this stage in her life than it would be for her to bear the consequences of losing her job for the same reason as an adult.

letting your kids fail

Life lessons in failure also apply to younger kids, right? Younger kids can learn that a failure to put their bike away could mean that it gets stolen, refusing to eat dinner means they will go to bed hungry, and being mean to a friend means they may not be a friend anymore. As I’m sure you can imagine, this list is endless, too.

The truth is, that although watching our kids fail can be so very painful as a parent, it can be a very good thing. Failing has taught us all invaluable lessons in life, and protecting our kids from failing at times would be to rob them of the opportunity to learn these lessons on a smaller scale since they are…smaller. Although no one likes to fail, our kids learn so much about life though it, and this is a very good thing.

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