“If I Let My Son Be On His Own, He will Fail”


There are two problems with this statement.

First, notice the implied belief about failure.  The parent believes failure is bad, and it most certainly is if the parent thinks her child’s performance is a reflection of her worth.  But what is so wrong with failure?   Failure is good if it motivates a child to work harder and challenges him to be resourceful to overcome obstacles.  In fact, obstacles and failures can be very powerful motivators if the parent does not incessantly hover around her child and rescue him before he can experience these opportunities.

Also, is it her son’s failure that she fears the most or her own sense of shame she will feel when it happens? Is failure bad for him or for her? Is it connected to her sense of self-worth? Is it about how she will look when he fails?

Second, notice the assumption that the parent is responsible for the child’s success. The child is responsible for his own success.  The child must be made responsible for his own success if he is to ever grow up. He may need to fail a few times and enjoy the consequences of his own choices before he comes around, but he will.

Parents who are not willing to let their children fail are usually fear-driven people. That fear then motivates them to do all the work for the child, sometimes literally filling in answers on worksheets or writing the homework themselves!

This is no small problem.  A son who has an excessively meddling presence will come to despise her. He will use her to get the homework done because he knows she will do it, but he will despise her in the end because she has not given him the right tools for success. She has not held him accountable for his choices and actions. She has not challenged him or made him learn responsibility. She has not corrected the child when he needed to be redirected.

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