“It is one of the most difficult things I have ever done!”
This statement has come from the lips of parents who, even though they could have prevented the outcome, refused to intervene and allowed their kid to fail. To be transparent, these words have come from my lips as well. Knowing the foreseeable outcome and letting your kid fail and suffer the consequences of their own actions is truly difficult. However, even though one of the most difficult challenges faced by a parent, it is imperative that we not intervene in every instance that failure is the certain outcome of a poor choice.
Sure, there are times when a life and death decision is in the balance and intervention is warranted. For example, a kid that believes they can float from the highest tree branch via an umbrella needs to be stopped. Or, the kid that runs into the street needs to be stopped and instructed of the obvious danger. This type of intervention is part of helping a child grow and understand the inherent dangers of living. However, at some point, a child will have all the information they need and will make a choice. That choice will have consequences-good or bad.
This is where the blur begins. That point is different for each student. BUT the point will come when training and warning are complete and the consequences of success or failure fall on the kid. Again, it is one of the most difficult things a parent can do but it is essential to a kid’s development. Failure should be allowed to happen.
Failure is Not Fatal
Failure is not fatal. Failure can refine and instruct a kid. Kids that are allowed to fail refine their efforts, focus and determination to learn from their mistakes. Kids that are allowed to fail learn their true strengths and weaknesses.
Yes, there are extremely painful allowed to fail situations in which a student’s moral failure(s) lead to major consequences. Allowing failure in these scenarios causes great and nightmarish pain for parents/guardians. Even so, without the consequences of a hard fall, some students will never be able to refine and define their lives.
So, here is a set of questions for all of us to consider:
- Do you complete your student’s homework and projects because you are afraid of them failing?
- Do you complain when your student does not get the playing time you believe they “deserve?”
- Do you fight your student’s traffic tickets because you are afraid of their “permanent record?”
- Do you cover your student’s moral failures from caring adults that have expressed concern?
- Do you work harder than your student in trying to make them “successful”?
- Do you allow your student to “work you” and remove consequences from them when house rules are broken?
I know that in the “real world” these questions are not always cut and dry. Even so, how did you do?
Again, even though difficult, failure is an essential element in a child’s moral, spiritual and social development.
Remember when your child learned how to walk? Falling was the natural consequence of balancing first steps. If your parent never allowed you to fall, you would never have learned to walk. It was literally a falling to stand up learning experience.
As the school year begins, remember to love them enough to let them fail.
David Fraze is Special Assistant to the President of LUBBOCK CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY and Manager of DFW Character Coaches for FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN ATHLETES. Based out of North Richland Hills, Texas, David has been a student minister for over 25 years. David is a popular speaker at Youth Events, Public/Private School Events, Ministry Trainings and Seminars. David is a writer who has contributed articles for the YS Blog, ENGAGE, the quarterly journal of The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, Youth Worker Journal, Journal of Student Ministries, and the Fuller Youth Institute. David serves as a Ministry Coach for YOUTH SPECIALTIES, speaker for STICKY FAITH, and serves as Character Coach for Richland High School Football and Athletics. He has been married to Lisa for 25 years. They have two children, Braeden and Shelbee.