Allowing students to 'fail forward'

Joey Menendez
Becoming a parent does something to you. You realize life is now more than just what your plans are for the weekend. Now, life centers around our children, and in particular, how to raise them in this ever-changing society. We are living in an era that is more connected, with more perceived demands on our time, and with more uncertainty than in years past.
 
Raising children is difficult today more than ever. And so, I completely understand a parent’s yearning to make life a bit easier for their children. It is much easier for me to put on my son’s shirt than have him struggle to put it on himself. I sometimes wonder if the short-term benefits of doing things for our children will pay off in the long term? Will me rushing to school to deliver a homework assignment to the front office teach them to be responsible? There are many examples where the good intentions of us as parents helping our children end up being more of a detriment because we neglected to see the long-term benefits of our children bearing the burden of their actions teaching them responsibility, resiliency, and grit. 

Many parents have taken away their child's opportunity to fail. Our good and well-meaning intention of helping children by removing or minimizing the obstacles children face has the potential hurt them more than help them.

Last year I read Jessica Lahey’s The Gift of Failure: How the best parents learn to let go so their children can succeed. Her ability to speak to parents on the realities that overprotectiveness has had on children in recent years was enlightening to me as a new dad. Moreover, she provides excellent advice on how to handle homework, grades, social dynamics, and sports, teaching parents to step back and embrace their children’s failures along with their successes.  

The more we allow our children to learn from their setbacks, the more resilient these young people will become. The more we praise our children’s effort in the process instead of on the outcomes of those endeavors, the more motivated they will be. And the more we let our children solve their own dilemmas, the morethey will be prepared to tackle the bigger issues on their own.  

Lahey’s writing gives us hope as parents and teachers. Allowing our children to learn from their mistakes will yield long term success. What a better place to allow failures and missteps to happen than here at All Saints’ and the home where failing forward is both safe and encouraged.
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All Saints’ Episcopal School is a leading college preparatory day school in Fort Worth, Texas. Grounded in the Episcopal school tradition, All Saints’ offers programming of national distinction in the academic, fine art, athletic and spiritual disciplines, which brings to life our philosophy of promoting each student’s individual genius within.
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9700 Saints Circle, Fort Worth, Texas 76108 Phone: 817-560-5700