Good Parents Let Their Children Fail!


This statement made by Barbara Duguid at a conference I attended earlier in the fall has been in the back of my head ever since. I think because everything about it goes against our nature of what we think is good. 

I mean, how is letting my child mess up, get hurt, rebel, experience pain or fail good? Especially, if I could have somehow stopped it. So as helicopter parents, we quickly jump in to rescue and prevent.

As my husband and I were talking about all this he reminded me of the time our youngest, who was just a pre-schooler at the time, took a plastic child-size lawn chair up to the fort and on to the top of the slide. As he was trying to position himself on it to go down the slide I see this from the window and come rushing out to stop him.

My husband on the other hand, stopped me by saying, “Wait. Let’s just see what happens.”

I’m thinking, “What kind of parent allows that? He could get hurt!”

But, my husband insisted we were right there if he fell and we should not stifle his creativity.  If it didn’t work he could guarantee our son wouldn’t try it again. If it did work (which it did) he would feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and independence that would carry with him to the next challenge.

Isn’t this what we want for our children- to grow up to be independent of us and for us to feel confident that we’ve given them every tool to be out from under our nest?

How can that happen though if we are always rescuing? Or, if we never let them fail and experience consequences?

For instance, let’s say my daughter doesn’t finish her English paper and wants to stay home the next morning to do so.  She had plenty of time, but had just procrastinated and prioritized extra-curricular above her work. If I allow her to stay home, I rescue her from the consequences of a late grade and maybe the teacher thinking she is irresponsible. It may also possibly prevent a letter grade drop, which of course would effect her GPA which effects her class rank and maybe acceptance to a certain college or scholarship!

With all that at stake it seems like I better let her stay home to finish. On second thought, if she experiences those consequences, wouldn’t she learn a valuable lesson that would serve her better in life than being rescued?

What if my child gets a speeding ticket. Do I just pay it off so she can keep her babysitting money for “fun money?” Or does she learn from the consequence of having to take responsibility and use her own money?

What if the coach isn’t playing my child – Do I demand the coach play him? Do I switch my child’s team? Do I stir conflict in the stands? Or, is there a great character-building lesson at hand?

Letting our children fail goes against everything a parent thinks is good and right. It is good that we want to protect, guide, shield and shape them. That is our job as parents. But when we refuse to let them fail we not only stunt their growth and limit their life experiences, we are failing to trust God knows what is best for them.

We are demanding to be in control and we keep them from seeing their need for a Savior.

To know and abide in Christ is my deepest desire for each of my kids. So if it takes letting them struggle, to be unsuccessful or experience consequences to know His great sustaining love for them then, Lord, help and sustain me when failing sometimes is for their best!


3 thoughts on “Good Parents Let Their Children Fail!

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