Letting Our Kids Fail

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I fail.  You fail.  It’s a part of life.  At our age, we accept it…and if we are really mature, we may even embrace our failures using them as opportunities to learn and grow. But when it comes to our kids it’s a different story, isn’t it?  As a mother of four, it is very hard  to let or see my children fail no matter how big or small. From the second they came in this  world, my natural instinct has been to protect them.  To keep them from falling, getting hurt,  experiencing pain in any realm: physical, emotional, spiritual or mental.  But failure is a part of  every person’s life, including our children.

We can try to protect, prevent, or set up boundaries that will keep them safe, but (ironically) we ourselves will fail miserably at doing this.  From the skinned knee, to hurtful teasing, to not making the team, or to doing poorly on a test, our kids will experience failure.  With friends, at school, on the field, on stage, at church, even in our own homes under our watchful eyes, they will inevitably feel the sting of defeat.

So what is a mother to do?

Well, I have seen two basic approaches on either end of the spectrum (and everything in between).  On one side, there is the overprotective mom (some of you may refer to her as a “helicopter mom”) who tries to structure her children’s lives so that failure is not an option.

These moms are well-meaning and conscientious.  They love their children and want only the best for them.  But they step in quite often to make sure their kids never experience defeat, hurt feelings or even discomfort.  This can take on many forms: intervening with their children’s friends, emailing coaches and teachers, or providing all the “extras” they think their children need to succeed.   I’m guilty of every one!

But then there are other moms (a rare species I might add), usually experienced, wise, with older children.  I have watched these moms carefully with much curiosity and sometimes amazement.

I don’t even know what to call them.  They are not necessarily laid-back although they appear to be.  They are not apathetic or unconcerned.  They love their children just as much and want the best for them too.  But their approach to failure, pain and hurt is entirely different.  They don’t step in very often, even when it seems like they should.  They make comments like, “This is a good learning experience.”  “Kids are more resilient than we think.”  “We can teach our kids to accept this with grace and humility.”  I wish I could act like this more often.

But it’s hard! Proverbs 3:5 it tells us to,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

So if I truly trust God with my kids and their lives I also have to trust that He allows pain, hurt and failure into their lives as well.  Leaning on my own understanding makes me want to protect and prevent at all costs.  Trusting Him means I can let go, allowing Him to use failure for their good and His glory.  LET GO

Lean not on your own understanding Embrace the hurt, pain and failure

Trust God with your children’s lives Give comfort and support

Overcome with grace & humility

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That’s one of my goals this year…to let go and let my kids fail.

Only by His Grace,

Carla

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Carla is a  stay-at-home mom with four very active children (ages 17, 16, 14, & 10). She married Michael, her childhood friend and high school sweetheart, over 23 years ago and is fortunate to have such a loving, generous and level-headed partner and best friend. She is a former high school English teacher and part-time college professor. She attends Christ Community Chapel In Hudson, Ohio and is very grateful to be a part of such Christ-centered community. She has had the privilege of teaching Bible studies to women for over ten years and is launching a speaking ministry called Parallel Ministries with her dear partner and friend, Joy Trachsel. She has had the incredible opportunity to share at various women's events. She enjoys serving in the women's ministry at her church, mentoring young women, and volunteering as much as she can in the local public schools her children attend.  You can find her at:  www.carlagasser.blogspot.com or  www.parallelministries.com