Why I Let My Kids Fail
"You are the best person for this event bar none!!"
That's my mom for ya. Always supportive, always encouraging... but not always right. My siblings and I still joke about the time my little sister tried out for the part of Annie in the school musical and instead got the part of a homeless person with one line. I mean, I'm sure my mom saw that coming a mile away but instead of cautioning my sister to avoid an inevitable failure, she let her have the experience and figure it out for herself. And guess what? It wasn’t a failure at all. My sister loved being a part of the musical, made great friends, and figured out on her own that her true talents probably lie elsewhere.
I realized something about my mom's unshakable positivity. As a kid, I just thought she was the eternal optimist who had complete faith in my success. And so I tried a lot of things, failed at some, had fun with others, and fell in love with a select few.
What I know now is that my mom encouraged us to pursue our interests not because she had faith that we would succeed, but because she trusted that we would be able to handle it if we didn't.
Not only that, but we were bound to stumble upon something great if we just kept trying. She wasn’t just teaching us optimism, she was teaching us fearlessness and confidence. In spite of all the inevitable fails, ultimately her way of parenting allowed me and my three siblings to discover our own talents and to pursue four very different careers which we each feel we were destined for.
It doesn't matter if your child gets the part of "Homeless Woman #4" when she wanted to star as Annie; there is value in exploring, learning new skills, and being in an environment that challenges a kid to think differently. Sometimes I think this is harder for parents than for kids, but like my mom, we need to believe in our kids' ability to persevere more than we believe in their ability to succeed. We need to care about the experience as much as the score, the grade, or the role. How else are our kids supposed to discover the parts of themselves and the parts of the world that invigorate and inspire them?
My mom is not afraid of failure, so she is the person who I call when I am. When I had my first workshop a year and a half ago, I had no idea if it would succeed. And to be honest I probably wasn't "The best person for this event bar none!!" at the time as my mom had promised. But that one sentence made me realize that I wanted to be. All I needed was someone to believe that I should try.
One of my goals with Maker Monkey is to help your kids build the confidence they need to overcome fear, work through challenges, and try new things just like my mom did for me. The only difference is that I’m doing it with tools. At my workshops your kids will pick up their hammers, they'll build something with their own hands, and I hope they'll leave with a sense of pride and confidence that has them asking themselves: "What can I conquer next?"