Letting a child fail is unthinkable for parents who strive to prevent every hurt, fix every problem, and make sure every endeavor is a success. Helicopter parents intervene whenever and wherever to make sure their children don’t taste failure. Drill Sergeants won’t tolerate anything less than success. Perhaps only laissez-faire parents, who abdicate their role as parents, will let their kids fail.
Is there a happy medium?
A happy medium assumes that a mix of the three types, each in moderation, is the key to raising self-confident, responsible, and motivated kids. The problem is that each type is inherently flawed. A happy medium doesn’t get around that. The helicopter approach prevents children from learning from their consequences; rather, they learn to blame others for any failure they experience. Children of Drill Sergeants don’t learn to make decisions because their parents make (or made) all the decisions. And, the third option? Abdication is not the same as having children learn from their consequences.
Children learn from the consequences of their actions and decisions, as co-founders of Love and Logic Foster Cline and Jim Fay argue. This means letting your child fail. Children learn to be responsible by making decisions and accepting the consequences, good or bad. They learn to make good decisions by making mistakes (as well as good decisions). Children learn self-esteem when they accomplish things on their own.
Of course, parenting has to be appropriate for the age and development of the child. When they are young, we can give them small choices to make. For example, “Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?”
I learned about the power of choice because I was lucky enough to take a course on Love & Logic for young kids. My son is now 13, and this summer I started reading Cline and Fay’s Parenting Teens with Love and Logic.
Cline and Fay offer a parenting model for raising teens: the Consultant.
These parents “ask questions and offer choices. Instead of telling their children what to do, they put the burden of decision-making on their kids’ shoulders. They establish options within safe limits.” Their book and online resources offer a wealth of concrete examples, advice for specific situations, moral support, and even words you can use. I am far from an expert, and I often fall back on one of the other parenting styles, but when I can be a Consultant to my teen, I see how it’s better for him—and better for me. And, yes, this does mean letting him fail, as painful as it is to see.
Should children learn from their consequences?
It is best in the long run to let our children fail?
When all the other parents are overparenting, how can you still let your child fail?
Ask your friends …
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