“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
When we see success we admire its perfection. We applaud the magic of actors, athletes, writers, musicians, and others who make it all look so easy.
But, here’s the deal. Very rarely does anyone succeed without boatloads of failure along the way.
One of the most inspirational success stories is that of J.K. Rowling. While writing /Harry Potter/, Rowling faced divorce, the loss of her mother, single-parenthood, and financial ruin. In 1990 all major publishing companies rejected the novel. A year later, a small publisher gave her a very small advance and an agreement to publish 1,000 copies. Since then, she has sold more than 400 million books. And the rest is history.
There are tons of stories like Rowlings’. Typically, the more failure the bigger the success.
Knowing this, what can parents do to ensure their children handle failure and challenges in a healthy manner?
As a parent, we want our children to be happy. It’s natural to want to protect them from all pain and struggle.
However, when we swoop in and rescue we send the message we don’t believe they’re capable of working through hard situations. Also, we reinforce the mistaken belief that successful people never struggle.
Rather than fixing, parents should come alongside children, allowing them to be sad, angry, frustrated, or whatever they need to work through the situation.
There are times when kids try to tell us they’re unhappy. Our discomfort with vulnerability, combined with our desire to fix, sometimes leads us to minimize feelings by telling them how to feel.
We say things like: Don’t feel sad. It will all be ok. Brush it off. You’ll be fine. Toughen up. Boys don’t cry. If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about. And the list goes on.
In our pull-up-your-bootstraps culture, the sharing of emotions, pain, and vulnerability is viewed as weakness.
There is a danger, though, in not validating struggle. Minimizing children’s challenges actually reduces their resilience.
Sometimes a simple response such as, “you seem sad,” and a hug can make a world of difference.
Watching our own children struggle is arguably the hardest part of parenting. However, sitting with and validating their feelings, rather than fixing or dismissing, is the right choice in the long run to ensure emotional well-being.
“Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail. If we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.”~ Brené Brown