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On walking fine lines with kids and dealing with failure

On walking fine lines with kids and dealing with failure

"My job as parent is not to make you into a perfect kid," I told my daughter this afternoon.

"The success rate among human beings trying to create mistake-free offspring is 0%. Well, at least that's the rate among those of us who aren't delusional. You're never going to be perfect"

"Our job as parents is to help you learn from your mistakes. You will always make them, and you can always learn from them."

My husband, daughter, and I had been talking about something she had done a few days prior that defied all logic. Nothing bad, just a complete brain freeze that involved basic arithmetic.

When she realized what she'd done, she clammed up. And got really quiet. And started mumbling answers to my questions. It was behavior we've seen a lot of in recent days, and none of us liked it.

"Why do you talk like that whenever you've made a mistake?" my husband asked.

"Because I'm embarrassed," she answered, again at around 2 decibels.

That led to us asking her to just own her mistakes, not let them get the best of her. Even if they weren't getting the best of her, she wasn't giving that impression.

We talked about how laughing at yourself can be a good way to own up to your mistakes but not give them more power than they deserve.

I want my newly-minted teen to feel empowered, strong, and able to confidently sail her own ship. But both dealing with kids and dealing with failure are hard.

I don't want her to not care at all. I think we've seen glimpses of that, and it's not okay, either. There's a sweet spot of caring about and learning from mistakes but not caring so much that they eat at you. When I hit said sweet spot, I'll let you know.

I recently did an interview with a school administrator who said, "You can't lead where you're not willing to go." Great point, and while I'm more than willing to go there, it's a tough balance to strike.

I worry that I haven't modeled the power of laughter to put your flaws, and those of others, in perspective. I fear that I haven't instilled the confidence she needs to embrace the fallibility that inevitably comes, time and time again. I have great concern that she's letting mistakes weigh her down rather than owning them as opportunities to grow.

Brene Brown says that “failure is an imperfect word” because as soon as you learn from an experience, it ceases to be a failure. Then they become lessons, chances to learn and grow.

You May Also Like: Interview with Dr. Michele Borba on parenting tweens

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