Far too many of us bend over backwards to make certain that our kid’s road to success is smoothly paved without the natural bumps of struggle, conflict or failure. Many of us moms have been known to angrily plow down a teacher or coach who we thought got in our kid’s way or made their life extra tough. And when parents over extend their support, make excuses or offer cover ups rather than expecting accountability from their child, they are actually preparing that child for a life of pain not power.
Certainly, our shared end goal is to groom our kids for success in life. To do so, we must empower children with the skills that they will need to work their way to success.
That means that as parents we need to step – not away - but by our child’s side. Partnering with them, showing a good example of how to handle life’s opportunities and encouraging them to take responsibility for their own actions is critical. Yes, they may sometimes stumble into disappointment or failure and it will probably be as painful for you as for them.
As much as we may want our child to be that star student, athlete or leader - if they do not work for it and actually earn it - they do not deserve it. An unearned trophy, grade or certificate is without true value.
A child who earns feelings of discomfort, uncertainty or sadness because of something that they could have done, but chose not to do, can quickly be taught the value of cause and effect. I do my homework and I get credit for it and feel good knowing I have completed my job. I don’t do my homework - but mom or dad calls in and makes up an excuse for me and I don’t need to feel bad because someone else covered for me!
Who has the power in this interaction? Certainly not the child! And what have we taught that child? That they really don’t have to be responsible for their own actions. Someone else will be there to cover for them . This then leaves them little to no power over their own future.
Being a good parent is hard. It’s also not coming up with excuses or fighting battles for our kids, but rather teaching responsibility and accountability. Failure can be a valuable starting place when a parent couples it with loving support and guiding questions like:
Can you tell me about what happened?
How did that make you feel?
Was there a different choice you could have made?
What could you have done differently ?
If you could change something what would it be?
What can you do now?
What will you do next time you have another choice to make?
By asking the right questions, offering supportive insights and sharing your love for your child, a parent can actually make failures less painful and the road to future success more clearly visible. Making certain that your child has the essential problem solving skills to tackle an issue ensures that they will have the tools they need to address future challenges, turning potential failure into success!