Giving my children the freedom to fail has to be the most difficult and scary part of parenting. But how else do we really learn? I think about babies learning to walk. How many times do they fall down before they succeed. Every time they fall they learn something about gravity and balance. Every time they fall their muscles are strengthened and their coordination improves. It is the failure that prepares them for the success. The reality is, if I never let my child fall, he will never learn to walk.
As parents we tend to know this intuitively and we allow our babies to fall. We even encourage them by laughing and cheering them on. Yet, somehow, as our children get older we become more reluctant to let them fail. Sometimes we are concerned about the consequences they will face, but I think most of the time it is because of our own pride. What will others think of us, if our child fails? Will they think we are "bad" parents? Will they think we don't care? This even carries over into our school systems. Teachers don't allow students to fail, because it makes the teacher or school "look bad."
By robbing our children of the opportunities to fail, we are robbing them of opportunities to learn. When a child fails and has to try again and again, until he succeeds, he learns that he has the power to overcome obstacles. He learns that hard work eventually pays off. He learns that "he" controls his destiny.
Failure isn't a bad thing. Failure is a necessary part of learning. I don't know about you, but I have learned much more from the times I've failed, than from the times I've succeeded. Will that make it any easier for me to let my children fail? Probably not, but I'll try to learn from my failures and allow my children to do the same.