“Today’s overprotective, failure-avoidant parenting style has undermined the competence, independence, and academic potential of an entire generation. [...] we have taught our kids to fear failure, and in doing so, we have blocked the surest and clearest path to their success. That’s certainly not what we meant to do, and we did it for all the best and well-intentioned reasons, but it’s what we have wrought nevertheless.”
We don’t want our children to hurt, but every time we shelter them and save them from a challenge, we implicitly tell them that we believe they are incapable and unworthy of trust. Our mission as parents should be to support our kids’ autonomy: although motivated by love and desire to protect them from possible harm, our constant ‘hovering’ teaches them to be dependent from us. Research has shown that children whose parents don’t allow them to fail are less motivated, less engaged in their education, and ultimately less successful. It may sound inconceivable, but decades of studies and scientific evidence prove that when parents back off the pressure over grades and achievements, and allow their kids to deal with (and even fail) their intellectual and physical challenges, self-esteem and academic performance will improve significantly. The middle school years appear to be particularly challenging as some major physical, emotional, and intellectual transitions happen during that phase of their growth.
With an eminently competent and compassionate voice, Jessica Lahey offers her guiding hand through the milestones and hurdles parents and educators are confronted with in their lifework of raising and educating capable and motivated children and adolescents: the power of intrinsic motivation; the connection between praise and self esteem; adolescent social angst; the role of friendship and sport in the formation of kids’ identity; the lessons that children (and parents) can learn from failing in school.
As a mother of two, age 6 and 11, I highly recommend The Gift Of Failure: perfect read for parents, caregivers, and teachers of pre-teen/middle grade kids. My rating: 5 stars
***The opinions and views expressed in this review are my own and no compensation or incentive whatsoever was offered by the author or the publisher.
ABOUT THE BOOK
THE GIFT OF FAILURE
“How The Best parents Learn To Let Go So That Their Children Can Succeed”
Published by HarperCollins; August 11, 2015
Hardback, 243 pages
Parenting, Psychology, Self-help, Guide, Non-fiction
In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.
Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.
Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom.
Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help their children succeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Lahey is a writer, teacher, and speaker. Her column, "The Parent-Teacher Conference, is published bi-weekly at the New York Times Motherlode blog, and examines the intersection of education and parenting. She is a contributing writer at the Atlantic, and while her usual beat is education, she also writes about health and politics, sometimes with her co-author and husband, Tim Lahey. You can also find her commentaries at Vermont Public Radio. Jessica lives in New Hampshire. To learn more about Jessica, visit her website http://www.jessicalahey.com