I’m Guilty, I confess, I’ve tried to keep my offspring from failure by helping them with skills and drills. However, unexpected scores or outcomes were not condemned, instead we would seek out answers and find ways to learn from mistakes. I don’t know if I’m a Tiger Mom or Helicopter Parent, hopefully neither. I try to nurture balance into the learning process.
Lately, I’ve noticed a huge amount of pressure on my offspring, some from me, in which they feel they can not fail. I remember feeling that way as a child or teenager–that failure made me a bad person. This type of discouragement leads to many unhealthy outcomes. Up until recently, I took failure personally and berated myself but raising children has given me a different perspective and I try to live what I’ve been teaching.
Teens are told that success comes by not failing. They must have a high GPA, ACT score, be involved in service, leadership, and/ or work experience. They are told their whole lives depend on getting into a good college and graduating with a useful degree so they can have a proper job. The pressure is so great that many young adults use drugs, alcohol, and sex. Or, like me they beat themselves up and waste energy bulldozing through tasks in an effort to counteract the failure. Blaming someone or something else is a common defense mechanism.
Some young people cope without harmful decisions until into their adulthood when they find some relief…or so they think. Perceptions about failure are destructive, but they can also be instructive.
Failure is an opportunity to learn. When we experience failure we can review our actions, rework, practice, re-evaluate goals, check for realistic outcomes, and try again. Failure is an option. We need to accept this facet of our lives in proper perspective, as a learning opportunity, and help those we nurture to change their perspective on this concept. According to new research in the last decade, learning from failures or resiliency is a key component to positive thinking, happiness, success, or thrival.
May you thrive in failure.