Freedom to Grow

The freedom to fail is such an important concept to grasp no matter the ages of your children.  As parents, we need to reshape our definition of “failure.”  This article, written by one of our Contact Moms and her husband, points out positive lessons that can be learned from life’s challenging moments.

A teenage boy crying

Freedom To Grow

Do you give your children the freedom to fail or make mistakes?  Or more appropriately, do you allow them freedom to grow with personal responsibility and ownership?
Whether you are a child or an adult, failure is not failure if you learn and grow from it.  As parents, it’s especially difficult for us to see our children suffer frustration, experience emotional pain or the discomfort that comes with failing or making mistakes.  However, in order for our children to grow and mature, they must be given the freedom to fail in order to learn from life’s challenges and take (age appropriate) ownership and responsibility for themselves.
Here are a few common areas that we’ve seen parents intervene in their kids’ lives for fear that their child/teen may fail or make a mistake(s):
School work – Not allowing your kids to do their school work and learn the material.  We know many parents who actually do their kids’ school assignments, rather than have them get sub par grades.
Activities/Athletics – Not allowing them to experience the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” without them having the fear of disappointing Mom or Dad.
Advocating for themselves – Not allowing your child/teen to respectfully advocate for themselves with teachers, coaches, and other adults.
Of course, all of these areas need some measure of parental oversight.  But the general idea is to allow them the freedom to grow as they take ownership and responsibility for themselves.  Just know that they will make some mistakes and “fail” in certain situations, but they will experience success as well.  Additionally, failed attempts and mistakes also provide the perfect opportunity to help kids learn to not make excuses, to not blame others (teachers, coaches, parents, etc.) and to learn to overcome obstacles.  This ultimately makes them more resourceful, resilient, thoughtful and able to cope when things don’t go their way through personal responsibility and ownership.
As our boys have grown in ownership and responsibility for themselves, these are some guidelines we’ve used to assist them in their growth:
1)  Listen and let them tell you how they will grow from the experience.  Depending upon their age, you may need to prompt them with some ideas or thoughts, but encourage them on the insights they discover from the mistake or “failing.”
2)  Offer a related/similar example from your past where you may have had a similar experience.  Knowing that mom and/or dad went through something similar always comforts and encourages.
3)  If possible, revisit the experience at a later date and examine the positives that came from the experience.
Allowing your children the freedom to grow while they are young and in a loving environment, will help them to prepare and mature, in the long run, for when they face challenges as young adults.   It will build their self-confidence and diminish their fear of failure or of failing someone.  Allowing your child/teen the freedom to grow from failure will help them to become more responsible, confident and accountable for their own lives.
Blessings to your family,
Shelly & Rich



Used with permission.  Copyright © 2016 HeadwatersLife, All rights reserved.


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