Sometimes You’ll Fail.

This is a sponsored post from Hallmark as part of the Life is a Special Occasion campaign. I am so thrilled to be working with this fabulous company this year and to have the opportunity to share ways to make everyday occasions  special.  Hallmark has an amazing line of encouragement cards for kids. They are perfect for school, rough times with friends, and all other trials little ones run into.
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Photo credit: Sarah Long Photography

My Mom has often said, “When you were born, I didn’t look at you and say, am I going to screw up this baby?”. It is funny because it is true. When I first held each of my children, I looked at them with such wonder and awe. I felt such a great responsibility to teach them, nurture them, and ensure they have the best life possible and learn to be wonderful, compassionate, adults. This is no easy task, and actually throws me for a loop quite often – this grave responsibility that I have.

One of the most difficult parts of being a parent, is letting my children fail.  It is no secret that Seth and I butt-heads, a lot.  We get so frustrated with each other and honestly, it rarely ends well. I have said to Jeremy (many times) that if he ends up a successful adult, I will breathe a sigh of relief. One of the main reasons we argue is because we are so much alike. I see so much of myself in him, and I try to protect him from the heartache and trials I have had in my life.

I remember in 3rd grade getting a 4 in math. With the grading system we used, that was equivalent to a D. I was so discouraged but despite my best efforts, I never could grasp the basic concepts. To this day, I still struggle with math. When we were first married, I joked with Jeremy telling him I only married him for his brains so our kids would stand a fighting chance.

Sadly, my husbands brilliant math brains did not make it into Seth’s DNA. While the boy looks just like his Dad, he acts just like his Mom. His struggle with math started when we moved to Texas in 1st grade. He had a teacher who was not loving and kind. She did not nurture him and made him feel very dumb. Despite my best efforts, he has struggled to get those basic concepts, and fights with every fiber of his being – anything related to mathematics. This breaks my heart for him.

I know the struggle he is going to have his entire life if he can’t learn to understand and appreciate numbers and how they work. I push him, encourage him, give him extra worksheets and games at home, anything I can think of to help him get the basic facts down.

At some point though, I have to let him try and fail. I have to let him have his own experiences – both good and bad. I have to let each of my children make their own ways in this world. It seems silly to say that when they are still so young, but when does it start? Whether it is school work, sports, friendships, their clothing choices, or even personality quirks I find annoying endearing but maybe others won’t. I have to let them try.

I have always let my children face the natural consequences of their actions. You don’t eat dinner and you’re hungry at bedtime? I’m so sorry – you can still finish your dinner if you want, but I won’t make you anything else. You want to go outside in the 40 degree weather without a jacket? Well, you are going to get cold and will wish you had that jacket won’t you. These are learning experiences and are very important for growth.

Now we are entering a whole new territory of natural consequences though. School is more difficult for Seth this year. He is in 3rd grade, so he has tests – a lot of them. I can access his grades online and see how he is doing in any subject at any time. It frustrates me when I see that he didn’t get a good grade on something because (I know) he rushed through it. It breaks my heart when I see that he didn’t score as high as he wanted to on a test he studied for. But, this is part of growing up. The natural consequences are increasing, and he is learning (I hope) from each one.

Just like he had to learn if Mama told him to wear a jacket and he later got cold, he will learn that studying well and taking his time on his school work will help him tremendously.

For me, the hard part is teaching him, then sitting back and letting him try on his own. I know that often he will succeed and do fabulous. But for those times when he does fail, he will have a soft place to land. There will be no “I told you so’s” or “Oh you should have done xyz…”. There will be only love and understanding, because I know the pain of failure and know these are lessons he will learn whether I want him to or not.

-just write

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  1. Bridget says:

    It is so against my nature to not give “I told you so’s”, but you are right…we need to the soft place to land. It’s hard.

  2. Carina says:

    I so agree with you; It’s important that my kids fail naturally so they know what to do when they get older and the stakes become even higher. It’s these early times that will shape their responses to challenges later in life.

  3. My oldest is a freshman in college. In many ways he is like me. Not surprising that when I seeing him make a mistake like I made in his youth — I don’t understand why he doesn’t listen to my advice. Bottom line is the only way to learn is by doing. Even if that doing is failing.

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