Chibi Kodama | Failure is essential
Failure is essential
by on May 26, 2016 in parenting

failureEvery single one of us parents wants to do a good job. I have a hard time believing that anyone out there gets up thinking, “I don’t care. Forget it.” Maybe I’m naive. But I don’t want to think about the hardened soul that would do that.

I’ve been getting to know the Plaid Dads recently, and Christian, one of them, posted a confessional, heart wrenching post last week about being a fraud due to a simple mistake. His kid had done something insane, and frankly, I feel that I would have reacted worse. Really, you should go listen to it if only for the gore factor.

But his mistake was a mistake of passion. That passion comes from love. Sometimes, our love runs away with us and turns into fear. That passion fueled fear can really cause us to make mistakes.

In my passion for my kids, I can get very afraid:

  • Are they well fed enough?
  • Do other people look at them and THINK they’re well fed?
  • Are they embarrassing themselves?
  • Are they embarrassing me?
  • Are they hurt?
  • Do they have what they need?
  • Do other people look at us and think that I’m providing for them and ACTUALLY giving them what they need?

The list could go on. It’s all fear induced. I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much any action I make with my kids, or life in general, out of fear will drive me to failure.

Fear begets fear.

Fear creates fear.

Think about the look in their eyes when you intervene out of being afraid. It only creates fear in them.

Let me give an example. You’re in a grocery store, in the checkout line. 3-year-old starts to dance and sing. She gets in the way of someone walking by.

Fear will lead you to erratically yank them away from the situation in order to preserve what the passerby may have been thinking of your child rearing skills. This fear will also teach the kid self-consciousness, awakening in them the idea that they shouldn’t dance and sing in public for *fear* of what people will think if you get in their way.

I’ve done this over and again, but not so much anymore. (sheesh, only took 5 kids) I failed in the times I yanked them out of the way. I had to confess this to my kids, too. Now, when in that situation, I am learning to gently put my hand out to guide them to where they can dance and sing in my little sphere of influence, and to take notice and care that they were standing in someone’s way.

I find that usually that person enjoys the song anyway.

I’m learning gentleness through failing with my fears.

In fact, I’m trying to develop a new motto for my family and I, and it is “Failure is your friend.”

Instead of allowing ourselves to be overwrought with regret and frustration, we can invite the failure in to sit with us and teach us. Greet it with a smile. I have to learn to not indulge my self-hatred, but to enjoy the opportunity life has presented.

The fact is, we’re going to blow it, over, and over, and over as parents. Will our kids see us become increasingly addicted to self condemnation, or will they see us train ourselves like an athlete to say, “Wow, I really screwed this up… Let me back up and learn here!”?

It’s a powerful statement to them. It changes their lives. We’re ALWAYS teaching them one of two things:

  1. They have to perform in life. They HAVE to get it right. Failure is weakness. Failure means rejection and loneliness.
  2. They get countless opportunities to make it right. Acceptance and embracing of failings is the very foundations of genuine strength and the building blocks of a rich and peaceful life with others.

I’ve heard it said that many that we look up in achievement have often failed more times than we have ever tried. There’s something to be said about that.

So, I leave you with a comic that was done on Doodle Alley a few years back. Seriously, take the time to read this and take it in. It’s worth every precious second.


***One side note that my kids were encouraged by was learning that Mark Ruffalo, their favorite Hulk, was rejected roughly 600 times before getting a paying job. The guy is a great fellow, and if you’ve seen any interviews with him, not arrogant in the slightest. ***


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