Monday, June 7, 2010

Failure and Parenting

I recently was asked to meet with some parents whose child was being retained.  They were very concerned because their child had not taken the news well and was upset, crying and begging them to reconsider.  The parents themselves were in great distress, tearful and worried as well.  Their question was, "What should we do?"  My answer was, "Be supportive, be understanding but stand firm."

My concern in this situation and in many situations that we find ourselves in as parents, is that we want the best for our children and sometimes we define best as everything going as the child wants. The plan for this child to be retained was well thought out and the decision had been made after much testing and consulting with authorities.  There was no question, even on the parent's part, that this was the best decision for their child. However, they were concerned that their child was unhappy with the decision.  Essentially, they wanted to know how to change reality so that their child would be happy and accept the decision. The difficult part of parenting is that sometimes the best thing to do is not to try and change reality.  A child who never experiences setbacks and disappointments is a child unprepared for adulthood.  Some of the best skills we can learn as children is not how to get everything that we want but instead how to cope with failure.  What if instead of looking at failure as the end of the road, we looked at it as a new road to travel?  There is much to be learned in this situation.  What storms have you weathered that that proved to have a rainbow at the end?

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.  Henry Ford

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