School Beat: Do you love your child enough to allow them to fail?

By DOUG HOOGERLAND, Principal

Roguewood Elementary

“Hi Mom.”

“Is everything okay?”

“I forgot my gym shoes at home and we have PE class today.”

“Don’t worry.  I’ll bring them up to school for you.”

This leads to this:

“Hi Dad.”

“Is everything okay, Kiddo?”

“Yeah, but I left my biology paper on the kitchen table and if I don’t turn it in today, my teacher will mark it a grade lower for being late.”

“I’ll bring it up there for you.”

Which leads to this:

“Hi Mom.”

“How’s everything in college?”

“Not so good. I got a C- on that sociology paper you proofed for me last weekend.”

“That’s ridiculous!  That paper was really well written.”

“Do you think you could talk to my professor?”

“You bet I will. You deserve a better grade than that!”

Which leads to this:

“Hi Dad.”

“How’s your new job going?”

“I got fired today.”

“What?”

“Missed my deadline again.”

There really is a connectedness between showing your child that you love him and allowing him to fail, to experience failure, or to even help them work through the complications and frustrations of failure. It is how we learn best.  Mistakes and failure provide us with opportunities to think about what we did, or how we did it, and to work through it and see what went wrong. It may not be easy, but who ever said that parenting would be easy?

As responsible parents, if we really want to show our children we love them, we must allow them to fail, and do it early and often.  How else will they ever become safely independent of us?  Though feeling needed can feel really good, our main job is to prepare our children for real life, not to create lifelong dependence on us.

And just think, if we start early allowing our children the “gift of failure,” we may never again have to drive a pair of smelly tennis shoes up to school.