One of the unexpected challenges I’ve found in being a parent is how hard it can be letting your kids actually fail.
I absolutely don’t want either of my kids to fail, but I also recognize from personal life-experience, that failure is where all the real learning occurs.
I believe only through experiencing failure do you really gain a healthy respect for it and a strong desire to avoid it. Little by little, this actually builds passion and a stronger work ethic.
So the challenge as a parent is to pick the right moments to let go…to give them enough room to succeed or fail on their own. And to let them actually suffer through the failure when it happens so that they can get the long term benefits from the experience.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be involved, or even willing to help as much as possible when your kid sincerely reaches out for help, but I believe you have to let them really ‘want it’.
There has to be a healthy mix of push and pull, success and failure, love and discipline.
And the hope is that by letting them suffer through the failures at a young age (when the price to pay in life is really nothing more than a few tears), they’ll be better positioned and equipped to deal with the larger, more serious challenges (and potential failures) life will bring them down the road.
Still - it’s a real challenge - some days you’ll do it better than others (and some days you’ll completely fail yourself).
But it’s also very rewarding to see it, little-by-little, start to work. To see a real work ethic develop. To see others start to respect their achievements (and know that they really are *their* achievements). To see them start to develop into self-sufficient, intelligent, and well-rounded people.
My kids are not perfect.
My wife and I are not perfect parents (me especially).
Accepting that as reality, and being self-aware about it, means we can use those mistakes and failures as teachable moments.
Moments where we can all learn and grow…and moments that help us appreciate the successes just a little more each time as well…and hopefully put us in a position over time to achieve more successes as well!
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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