We often counsel our children and even ourselves with this saying, “Failure is not an option”.  However, I would like to for all of us as parents and as human beings to reconsider this way of thinking.  In fact, I think we are providing a disservice to our teens by not only incorporating the fear of failure into their mentality but often actively protecting them from failing.  Many of us are familiar with the story of how penicillin was invented through the failure to clean up dirty dishes in a workstation before a vacation.  However, because Alexander Fleming was observant he noticed the difference between one of the dishes and the others which caused him to do further tests;  this came to be known as today’s penicillin.  There are many other amazing “failures” such as a pacemaker which came about when the inventor, Wilson Greatbatch, took out the wrong resistor and plugged it in while trying to record the rhythm of the heart.  This led eventually to idea of electrical stimulation for hearts and the pacemaker was born.  


Yet when it comes to my own children I often forget this important lesson.  Frequently,  I am guilty of saving them.  They forget to make their school lunch so I make it for them. One of my teenagers desperately texts me from school as I am working in my home office telling me her homework is left on her desk at home.  I will enable and send it via email.  My child has forgotten to study for a math and remembers during breakfast so I will spend time going over the math concepts with him so he feels ready for the test that he has known about all week.  Although these actions are borne out of love they don’t give my children the opportunity to fail and  experience the consequences.  


In trying to make changes,  I have found having the conversation with my children that experiencing natural consequences are important.  I explain that failure is a great teacher.  Their Dad and I reinforce the importance of displaying resilience and grit in the midst of difficulty coupled with the willingness to try again after failure.  I have been allowing lunches to go unmade and homework to stay on desks.  Gym clothes are left at home and tests may not be prepared for as they should be.  However, my children have had the best teacher; life.  They have had to make up a class, eat lunch at home, lose credit on work or even work harder to raise a poor test score.  All of these lessons allowed them to learn about themselves.  Can I bounce back?  Do I have grit?  Can I withstand adversity?  What am I made of?  


These are questions that we all want our children and teens to understand about themselves.  In growing up and in life, failure is definitely an option.  Without it, there can’t ultimately be success.  As Winston Churchill so eloquently stated that, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts.”  Let’s build into our children the courage, resilience and grit to continue in life.  That is everything!  


If you have more questions or want more information about how to support your child or teen in the midst of success and failure please reach out for a free consultation at www.laurenrandconsulting.com or email at laurenrand7@gmail.com.   There are Parent coaching options as well as Learning coaching options available.