Failure tends to be a big deal. This is probably why so many people’s choices are driven by the fear of it. Add to this the complexities of parenthood and that fear of failure takes on a whole new level of crazy.
Parents are not only aware of their own capacity to fail, they are also acutely aware of their children’s propensities toward failure. Often, it is this fear we have of our children failing that drive us to make parenting choices we would almost always recognize as nonsensical, had our better judgment not been so clouded.
We don’t have to fear failure. Sometimes failure – both our children’s and our own – can be turned into the very best thing for our lives.
If you’re the type that tends to need a little convincing, here are four reasons failure can actually be a good thing, and why we don’t have to live in fear of it – for ourselves, or our children:
1 – Failure can be the best kind of teacher.
When I take a look at my own life story, it is often in moments I have experienced failure that I’ve learned the most about myself and the world around me. The lessons we learn from our own mistakes are invaluable building blocks of development; lessons that will very seldom be learned any other way.
If we shield our kids from failure, we are potentially robbing them of the very education that will make them successful later in life. Instead, we should help them discover the lesson that is waiting to be learned through the experience, and remind them how valuable these types of moments can be.
2 – Failure can be an effective motivator.
Let’s be honest, failure feels terrible. The reason why we (and often our kids) avoid it is because it doesn’t feel good to fail.
The payoff of an F is in no way comparable to that of an A.
Careless spending does not bring the same reward as delayed gratification.
Skinning a knee, or nursing a bruised heart, or serving a specific punishment are rarely revisited the exact same way again, because our experiences with failure often act as a motivational catalyst for change.
The natural consequences of an experienced failure remind us we don’t want to go there again. Those same consequences motivate our kids to try something different next time too.
3 – Failure can become the fertile soil of growth.
In reality, all failures are not created equally. Some are the result of sin. Some are the result of an exposed character trait and the current status of our true selves. Some failure happens as the result of well-intended risks. Each of these kinds of failure presents the opportunity for us, and our children to grow.
If we can understand how exposed sin opens the window to spiritual growth, and the discovery of character flaws provide room for personal growth, and how well-intentioned risks build a platform for discernment and improvement, failure can become a beautiful part of our life story.
4 – Failure can draw us closer to God.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23 (NIV, emphasis mine)
While there is no promise of perfection or immunity from failure, there is a certain safety and security for someone who decidedly walks with the Lord. Their feet will not always stand on steady, even ground. There will be moments they stumble, but that stumbling leads them into the mighty hand of God.
The most perfect place a failure can send us.
The most perfect place a failure can send our kids.
We have the privilege of becoming a safe place for our kids when they experience failure. It is so important that our kids experience age appropriate failure while they are home so they know how to process it when they are out from under our protection and provision as adults. If we can become a safe place for our children to turn to in times of failure –
We can be a voice of wisdom, helping them sort through the mess, discover the lesson, and grow through the experience.
We can be the loving picture of our Father God, demonstrating gentleness and discernment to help our kids recover their footing.
We can push through our own fears, to show our kids that failure is not bad, but something we can learn from, be motivated by, and grow through.
This may be one of the most important lessons we ever teach them.
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