Failure is always an option

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” Jean Luc Picard


"The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." - Douglas Adams

Lately we've been dealing with self-esteem in the Smalley home. I remember being 6 and the confusion of a major life change. I remember the anger at myself I was feeling at 10-14. Life is seldom fair and always finds a way to kick you in face. Nothing has to get better. Nothing has to improve. That being said I've been lucky to met the people I've met in my life. Without the support of friends, family, and complete strangers I've never made it this far.

Now that I'm a parent (and out of my 20s) I love my parents more than ever and I respect their choices more. Coming to the realization that everyone is just doing what they can to get by puts things into perspective. It gives me pause to consider my own choices. I'm my harshest critic and I'm harder on myself than anyone else. I don't think I am good, smart, etc. enough and I fall short everyday. All parents feel that. It's what drives us to be better and help our children to be better than we are. This is why teaching ourselves and our children that failure is always an option is so important.

It is out of failure that we learn what success is. My son has been having such a hard time at school. His behavior is deplorable and his grades are going down. He has all the tools he needs to succeed so why? Finally one day instead of punishing him we went out for a treat after school and talked. He believed that he as stupid because he couldn't do a some math/spelling/etc problems. He believe that was bad because he couldn't sit still. It all comes down to the self esteem. What he told me made me stop and realize that punishing him wasn't going to work. That what he really needed what someone to believe in him; he needed a cheerleader. He needed to know that everyone has bad days. So we talked about failure and believing in yourself. The next day I saw the weight being lifted off of him.

From that day forward I tell all the kids; I believe in you. I know you can do it. Even when you have doubts, even when you don't believe in yourself; I do. I tell them failure is always an option. Each time you fail, you'll learn how to fail better. For my son, I tell him that ADHD is not an excuse. You were born with a sledge hammer; when the world expects you to hang a picture it's almost impossible. Your pills give you the right hammer for the job. However you're still responsible for how you use it. Most of all I tell them they are loved and appreciated regardless of their failures.

As parents we tried to shield our children from failure. I learned more about life by watching my parents fail than anything else I learned from them. My life would have been a lot better had they given context to those failures and not left me guessing. We all fall down. We all have bad days. We're only human. It doesn't stop the fact that our children see everything. They witness all our triumphs and defeats. Just as it is important we teach them about failure as it is success. To teach them how we deal with the setbacks when life kicks us in the face. It's the loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, divorce, accidents, bad days, etc. that really show our true characters. So maybe next time we have a bad day let's stop and use that an opportunity to teach our children that failure is always an option. After all isn't that what we all want; for our children to be better than us?