That’s Life: Should You Teach Your Children How to Fail?

In the game of life, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose – but do your children need to know that? Many schools and clubs have policies in which “keeping score” at sporting events isn’t allowed, but does this set your children up for a shocking realisation later in life? According to Jeff Bogle, author of The Good Men Project blog, for the sake of family wellness,you’re your child’s future wellbeing, parents should let their kids fail.

Jeff notes a time in his teens when his driver’s license was suspended for a year. Jeff admits he was fully in the wrong, but his mother, who worked at the neighbourhood pharmacy, asked if Jeff wanted her to talk to the officer about the situation the next time he needed his prescription filled. Jeff says he didn’t want or deserve any kind of special, hush-hush treatment, as he holds a mantra based on a paraphrased quote from Frederick Douglass: without struggle there can be no progress.

According to Jeff, his kids have ‘had explained to them the implications contained within the notion that with all efforts big and small – in the classroom, on the playing field, growing up – there are bound to be failures, but present in those moments of extreme disappointment and blood-curdling frustration, is the truth. The truth about themselves, about their passion (or lack there of) for the thing they are attempting to do, and about how the world sees them and how much weight to give the opinions of others.’

He continues, ‘It is right there, the falling hard off the bike and having a parent wipe away the tears and clean the cuts, before heading back out and trying it again, and again, and again, that the how, when, and where we learn the most about ourselves has its origin point. Take away struggle, disappointment, and heartache completely from childhood and you are left with what will become a fragile and incomplete adult.’ He adds, ‘I will pass down many personality traits and idiosyncrasies, some good, some bad – a love of dark chocolate mousse, an affinity for grilled asparagus, an appreciation for European football, among them – but nothing will benefit my daughters as much as those seven words.’

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