The Value of Failure

I was working with a group of parents yesterday on adoption education. One of the many things that came up in the context of a breakout discussion was the importance of failure, how it can be used as a positive, to build character, self-esteem and fortitude (among other things) in children. How do parents teach their children, adopted or not, the value of failing?

Talk of failure got me thinking of our family weekend. I know, odd. But let me explain. Wonderful friends invited the entire clan down for a weekend at their lake. We are always happy to be asked, but I do reemphasize with any such invite that there are six of us. And my four are ever-ready and nonstop, especially the boys. (I’ve seen them wear other kids out.)

My kids had the opportunity to water ski for the first time. We had successes and we had some not-successes. What impressed me though was how my kids fared emotionally with their failures to get up on skis after many attempts, because, believe me, there is competition within the ranks…

Frustration was minimal. Josi laughed it off. Aubry showed focus and acceptance. There weren’t any tears or anger. Yes, they were doing something that could be fun. Yes, the lake was exciting and beautiful. But what I saw was that my daughters were able to embrace failure.

Failure is part of the process of learning, of eventually succeeding. Both of the girls said that they would probably get up next time. I like that renewed determination!



Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting, The International Mom

6 responses to “The Value of Failure

  1. I have started reading your blog and really enjoy reading another “international” mom! Failure is such a big deal. Since I homeschool, failure is something we come upon daily. When they get something wrong I keep reminding them that NOW we know where to start learning. If they can give me all the right answers then we really aren’t learning anything new. How to fail with grace is an important life skill.

    • theinternationalmom

      Hi Debbie,
      So important! I like your perspective on having all of the right answers. You make a good point.

  2. The thing is, Judy, that in your parenting, you have raised confident children who are able to handle challenges and to learn from failures. They didn’t just luck into these life skills. Mom & Dad had a great deal to with it!

  3. What an important lesson to learn!

    It seems this is an area in today’s culture that is lacking. GRACE and not being NO 1, especially the very first time you attempt something. Having to learn and the process, the journey!!!

    She did a GREAT job! She listened, was coach-able, applied the new information in her attempts…. all signs of GREAT things to come!


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