I have had this idea rolling around in my head for a while, the idea about failure and how it pertains to life. A month ago I had the opportunity to watch the movie “13 Hours,” where the notion of failure was definitely not an option because it meant lives lost. Failure is not an option for places like the operating room. But are there instances where failure can lead to success? Think about all the inventors of the world who used failure as a way to guide themselves to the end solution. Had these people never made that initial mistake, perhaps half the gadgets we use on a daily basis would be obsolete!
I may need to back up just a bit here because the idea of “failure” occurred a couple of months ago when two friends of mine, during separate conversations, talked about how they decided to let their child “fail” at something. They were not going to try and sway decisions on life choices or closely monitor and correct every piece of homework. They had come to the finality that their kids were old enough to know what to do and how to do it. “Time to stop hand-holding,” was the mantra they were lamenting to me. Now, these amazing ladies are great moms and I have taken countless advice from them on parenting myself. So when I heard these two individuals talk about letting go a little and allowing their child to make a mistake I had to stop and take notice. I had to stop and think about my own ways of parenting and whether I was willing to let failure be an option.
In a society that focuses on perfectionism and never letting the ball drop, tossing around the idea of actually not losing it over a mistake or mishap seems foreign. I am a perfectionist myself, more so when it comes to my own being, but I also color code my closet and straighten crooked pictures in public places. But the more I think about this option of “failure,” the more I can see where our kids could benefit from strong-willed parents stepping back and seeing what kinds of decisions our sons and daughters can make on their own. Now, of course, there has to be sensibility in this idea. You are not going to let a toddler walk across the street alone or your “tween” daughter hang out by herself at the mall. But perhaps you stop doing the school projects. Perhaps stop stepping in the middle of every little tiff at school that may not be as big a deal 24 hours later. Let your kids gain a sense of control and independence, even if it means the result is not an A or being the most popular one at school. That in itself could be the golden ticket for getting through life. Life is hard and full of ups and downs that younger generations seems to not handle as well. Why not help our kids discover their inner strength and perseverance to use when they pull all-nighters in college or go for the first job interview. We, as parents, can’t be there to hold their hand through every major event, but teaching them how to draw upon themselves and learn from past “failures” could be the best form of parenting.
I have been watching an online parenting webinar for the past year by Amy McCready (positiveparentingsolutions.com). Not every piece of information works for my kids, but she always provides a starting ground or successful path for me to try out. Ironically, something McCready discusses is stepping back from things that are age appropriate for kids and letting them try it out on their own. For my Type-A, hates to see a mess kinda personality, that was rocket science. Could I do it? Could I be the mom that knew when to guide and step in and when to let go and my children spread their wings of independence? I would and still do need gentle reminders to calm down and let go a little more so my kids can gain more character. Baby steps and major feats are helping me to find those opportunities for my kids to do more, learn more, and possibly fail more. And when it happens, we all get back up, brush off the dust and remember that tomorrow is another day.