People who knew me as a nerdish bookworm in high school might be surprised at this post. People who knew me as a determined young mom taking 14 years to earn my Bachelor’s degree while raising kids, moving homes, and supporting my husband through college might be surprised at this post, too. In fact, anyone who knows me well enough to know that I love a challenge, love to exceed expectations, and seem to constantly put more on my plate than I can possibly digest will wonder at the confession I am about to make.
I allow my kids to quit and fail.
And I don’t freak out when they do.
Even though I consider myself an ambitious person, I have come to realize in my lifetime that there are just some things not worth succeeding at.
Take for instance junior year math. My oldest daughter is struggling, and…well…failing at it. She is not a bad student, doesn’t waste away her days, run with the wrong crowd, none of that. She just doesn’t “get” math, and doesn’t like it. And, honestly – parabolas, conics, and quadratic equations? Not exactly required in day-to-day adult life.
Of course I would like to see her pass and avoid having to make up the credits in summer school. But do I get all knotted up with expectations for her to succeed at everything? No. Do I come down on her with lectures about doing the “hard stuff” and “sucking it up” and learning that “failure is not an option?” No.
Because you know what? I think failure *is* an option. I think too many people are concerned with what it looks like to others or means in some big picture of “principles” to succeed at things that don’t mean anything to us or don’t mean anything in our ultimate futures or destinies. Like it’s a badge of honor to struggle and sweat and toil for…the sake of saying you survived it?
Don’t get me wrong, my kids do struggle and sweat and toil. The same daughter who’s failing math goes through some of the most grueling training for marching band. I would *never* be able to endure what she endures while learning drills in the hot Houston summers. She knows how to do “the hard stuff” and how to “suck it up.” But for something she believes in.
My second daughter had an amazing experience where she struggled through “the hard stuff,” even with little chance for reward. But she did it because it was something she believed in.
My 9yo son on the other hand? I let him quit something (and caught a lot of flack for it!) because it meant nothing at all to him.
There is something to be said for doing what needs to be done when a future goal or someone else’s success is on the line. I am not against teaching my kids to put their shoulder to the wheel. I just think there are some things in life that we can let go of without fear of the world falling apart in front of or before us. And I’m hoping to teach my kids the same.