As teachers, we see the benefit of failing. Seems odd, right? As a teacher you should only want your students to succeed, but sometimes in order to succeed, to build the skill set to find success, you must first fail. You must first stumble, you must see what failing looks like, feels like, in order to know how to avoid it in the future.
Isn’t that true in life as well? To appreciate the life we have built we must see where we have come from and sometimes that means failing first. Living in a dark place, where hope seems bleak, struggling to achieve and move forward. Through the failure we gain perseverance, grit. Through failure we become resourceful and find our community of supporters. Through failure we find our voice.
So why as a parent am I afraid to watch my children fail?
From the moment they took their first steps, I wanted to wrap them in bubble wrap, so in case they fell, they would be protected. When they started learning their ABCs, I sang along to support them, so they didn’t miss a beat. When they came home from school in tears because of a confrontation with a friend, that very easily could have been their fault, I didn’t ask questions, I just hugged them. When my oldest is on the basketball court and he takes a shot, I hold my breath, saying a quick, silent prayer it goes in, so he is happy, he feels successful.
Instead of wrapping them in bubble wrap, walking every step with them, ignoring a teachable moment, or holding my breath, I should be showing them the way. Scooping them up and kissing them when they stumble so they know I will always be there. Giving them the opportunity to try, so they know I believe they can be successful. Reminding them of what it takes to be a good friend and teaching them how to apologize. Proving to him that confidence will help you make the next shot, verse just hoping for it to drop. I need to be a model for them, I need to show them the benefit of failing.
As a teacher, I see my students strive for success, but to them that equates to a grade. They bypass the process and focus on product and getting the perfect score. Just tell me how to earn an A! They become frustrated when I focus on process, when I ask them to think about how to accomplish a goal, and when I don’t provide every step of the way and they waver and falter and struggle, they point at me. But as a teacher, I’m trying to show them the way, I’m trying to provide an opportunity for them to see what it takes to be successful, to build the skill set needed to tackle any task, and to remind them that it won’t always be easy, you will struggle, but you will succeed.
As a parent I take on my children’s struggles, they are a weight I carry in my heart. I feel like I have failed them, when they falter, when they waver. But I’m working on bridging my teacher mentality and my parent heart. I can be my children’s guide, I can provide an environment where it’s okay to fail. I need to do this for my children. They need to know how to wrestle with being bored, they need to know how to study and look at things a different way, they need to know that it’s okay to ask questions, it’s okay to be wrong. I can’t protect them from hurt and pain and frustration, not always. I want my children to be strong, confident individuals. I want them to grow to shine and be dynamic, but also tender and compassionate. They can’t be strong if they’ve never faced adversity. They can’t be confident if they’ve never persevered through a struggle. They can’t shine if they don’t know who they really are. They can’t be tender and compassionate if they can’t see the hardships others face and empathize with those times in our life.
Failure provides an opportunity to become our best self.
Recently I have felt the weight of failure, I have been clouded by doubt and have struggled to find a path moving forward. I’ve neglected the skill set that I have built in order to break through these moments. But I’m starting to remember…to remember that it’s okay to ask for help, that just means you are being resourceful. I’m remembering that pain is only temporary, this is just a moment, this is just a piece of my story, it’s not everything, I won’t be in this place forever. I’m remembering that it’s okay to be selfish, that when the weight of the world is too much, it’s okay to look inward and work on who I am at the very core. By focusing on me, I can be a better mom, wife, teacher, friend, daughter and sister. Failing can redefine who we are, and it can help to build the person we are meant to be, but we can’t avoid it and we also can’t wallow in it.
I came across a quote by Ellen DeGeneres and I want to leave you with it , it is a reminder of how failure is a necessity in our life- “It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”