How to Help Your Kids Fail

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Sunday I talked about how to fail forward as adults and how many people live their lives like they are using a whiffle ball bat, where they take away every possibility of failure. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

Sadly, many parents parent this way. They stack the deck to make sure their kids never experience a setback or failure. Here are a few examples:

  • Your child announces at 8pm they have a project due tomorrow that they’ve known about for a week or two. What do you do? The whiffle ball bat parent jumps into action and gets it done, probably even finishing it after the child goes to bed.
  • Your child gets a trophy for every single sports team they are on or competition they are part of.
  • Your child never tries anything new, so the only activities they do are things they are good at (this is common among adults).

Think back to the parent and the 8pm project, what would happen if you didn’t finish the project and your child got an incomplete or F for that assignment? Would their life end? Probably not. A valuable lesson would be learned.

Because we as adults hate failure (and who doesn’t), we try to ensure that our kids don’t experience failure. The problem with that is failure is the best way to learn about something (besides learning from the failure of others). If we don’t allow our kids to experience failure of some kind, we don’t teach them how to bounce back from something, how to pick themselves up, how to react in a healthy way to life not turning out how they want (because that will happen as an adult).

In the end, we send them out of the house ill-prepared for life.

Sadly, I’ll hear from countless parents whose kids walk away from the church and one of the reasons has to do with failure and faith.

When it comes to faith, we don’t challenge and encourage our kids to have a God-sized faith. We don’t challenge them to pray impossible prayers, the ones that God will have to move for something to happen. In the end, they grow up seeing a God they don’t need, a God who seems less powerful than they are and they wonder, “Why have faith? Why have anything to do with God?” If you have a son, he sees the church as boring, not worth giving his life to and will find a mission that will drive his passion, but the world won’t be changed.

The dominos can be enormous.

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