"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.
Certainly, there are times when a life/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 umbrella needs to be stopped. Or, the kid that runs into the street needs to be stopped and instructed of the danger present when such action occurs. This type of intervention is part of helping children 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. A parent/guardian and the wise adults providing counsel (hopefully everyone reading this has or is building a wise team for counsel-parenting is a team sport) will arrive at a point that they know they have to step back and let the kid accept the consequences for their own choice. That point is different for each student (the blur). BUT the point where training has been completed will arrive and the parent/guardian will let their student experience the pain of failure. Again, it is one of the most difficult things a parent can do but it is essential to a kid's development that failure is allowed to happen.
Failure is not fatal. Failure can refine and define 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 define their true strengths and weaknesses.
Yes, there are extremely painful allowed to fail situations in which a student's moral failure(s) has 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?
Even though difficult, failure is an essential element in a child's moral, spiritual and social development.
Remember when your child (all of us) learned how to walk? Falling was the natural consequence of balancing first steps. If our parent/guardian never allowed us to fall we would not have learned to walk. It was literally a falling to stand up learning experience.
It is good to let kids fail.