Real life includes struggle, failure, and pain.  When should children have to handle these things?

For the most part, children learn and mature as life presents opportunities and children decide to take advantage of the opportunities.  The events of life naturally include situations that have struggle, failure, and/or pain built in.  The death of a pet, moving, and unfair treatment by peers are some examples.  In each of these situations parents have to choose:  Do I protect my child from this or do I allow my child to struggle with the complications and discomfort of the situation?

It’s so easy to say, and so hard to do:  As much as possible, model, teach, and guide children through life’s challenges.  Resist the urge to solve the problem, make it better, or soften the consequences. Generally, I consider the child’s age and maturity, then look inward to determine how greatly I am underestimating the capacity of the child to handle a given situation. I know I’ve softened the blows of life for my children too much, and I can’t remember many situations where I wish I had shielded them more.

WEST parents, you have an opportunity to walk through some real life struggle, pain, and failure with your child.  Math class.  Walk alongside your child as he or she struggles with homework and deadlines.  Empathize with the pain and effort of learning algebra. Allow your child to fail a test, or fail to complete homework.  In each situation, process the events and turn them into lessons.



2 thoughts on “Fail

  1. Megan stewart

    I love this. There is so much guilt and pressure in parenting regarding your children’s failure. We’re just stepping into what you’re talking about this year. Freedom is allowing people to make their own mistakes and work through their issues. Fear is the root of so much of it. Fear that they will not be successful, fear that you personally are a failure, fear that you look bad, fear that the children will hate you, fear that they won’t move out of the house, etc. i’ve been walking myself there’s a worst-case scenario and then seeing where God can meet me in that place.

    1. Post author

      Megan, I hadn’t thought of fear being the root of not allowing struggle and failure. Good point! It reminds me of things I ask myself when making a decision: What goal is fulfilled, or worked toward, by doing this? and What am I afraid of? I believe we are often motivated by fear and we aren’t even aware of it.


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