I taught my son to fail. What are you teaching your children?

I taught my son how to fail well

On first hearing his words were an insult: ‘you taught me how to fail well’. Once I got past my hurt pride and could listen to the rest of what he was saying, I realised these words were a compliment to my parenting. It took me to move my focus from the word ‘fail’, to hear the words ‘taught … well’.

When he was little and we were at the beach, he loved to walk in my footsteps. His little legs leaping from one footprint to another as he tried to match my steps.

Now as a young man he was telling me how he was practising what he had seen me do. He was walking in my footsteps.

Until he made the comment about failing well and we discussed it, the lesson I had taught my son of how to fail had been through role modelling. Over the years he had watched me write, produce courses, learn how to use websites and manage the administrative aspects of business. He had watched my lack of success by worldly standards and my desire. He saw me maintain my passion, problem solve, learn from the experience and most importantly get up to try again.

I was completely unaware that through this process I was teaching him to pursue his dreams and showing him that failure along the way was both okay and a necessary part of learning and moving forward to achieve the dream.

This was a good affirmation for my parenting. It showed that I had changed and was practising what I preached. As previously I hadn’t done this well.

I taught my daughter how to put herself down

In the early days at the end of my marriage my self-esteem was battered and I put myself down in both attitude and words. When I spoke to my children I used words of affirmation trying to build their self- esteem. I was unaware of the incongruency of my role modelling and how I was trying to parent my children. It wasn’t until I heard my daughter describing herself with words she had heard not from me to her, but from me to me. Instead of being inspired to love herself and see herself positively through my affirmation of her, she had watched me at the mirror. She had watched me respond to mistakes by putting myself down, and that was the example she was following.

What are you teaching your children?

Today’s blog is not structured in the usual six steps of ‘how’ … but is a challenge to reflect on what you are teaching your children.

Whether you realise it or not, whether you are intentional in what you teach or not, your children are learning how to do life from you. They are walking behind you, watching you, sometimes listening to you, stepping where you have stepped.

Your children will learn from you

  • how to care for themselves. This includes respecting themselves, practising healthy behaviours and their self-esteem
  • how to relate to others. This includes showing respect, being forgiving and having personal boundaries
  • how to manage their emotions. This includes naming their emotions, recognising the impact of their emotions and having strategies to deal with them
  • how to learn. This includes their attitude to learning, understanding their way of learning and putting it into practice
  • how to cope with challenge. This includes problem-solving, their view of challenge and resilience
  • how to manage growing life. This includes prioritising/time management, understanding consequences and specific life skills
  • how to pursue their dreams. This includes their view of the future, belief in them self and how to fail

Putting legs on it

If you would like some help to assess your role modelling, click here to download a copy of: ‘Your children are watching you: 6 questions to assess your role modelling’


You may also like

Leave a comment