It was my fifth-grade year; I don’t remember much from this year, but I do remember it was the year of the Science Fair. Every student worked on a project for the fair, except for me. I don’t remember how I forgot, but I do remember waking up one morning knowing that the fair was today, and I had nothing. How could I be in a class all year, a class that was preparing for a one-time event, and come out with nothing to show? What does a child do when a deadline comes, and they are not ready? Why, do what every teenage sitcom does to avoid big situations, and play sick. I remember getting up, telling my mom who was getting ready for work that I had a headache and wasn’t feeling well. She allowed me to stay home with my illness, and I played video games and watched The Price Is Right. The next day, I went in, and my teacher didn’t say a word to me about the science project. I had gotten away with it… until report cards came and I realized that the project was worth a whole lot of points. I didn’t fail the subject, but it was very close.
My parents didn’t fight for that grade to change or complain that because of “illness” I missed school that day. Rather, my parents allowed me to fail. I learned an embarrassing lesson that day; failures will happen. I don’t think my parents wanted me to fall short, but they were not going to protect me from my own consequences. I was lazy; I didn’t prepare, I lied to avoid the situation and I paid the price. It was my mistake.
Not one person will go through life without failing at something. You can avoid a lot of things, but you can’t avoid taxes, death and failure. When our children are young, we want to protect them from failure. We check on their homework to see if it’s done. We protect them with safety equipment, so when they fall it doesn’t hurt. We fight for them to be treated fairly. Those things are all good things to do, but sometimes we go overboard to the point where we try to prevent them from experiencing life and consequences.
Does it stink when our children fail? Yes, it is horrifying. It is almost like your stomach gets turned inside out, and you feel terrible for them. But, instead of worrying about prevention, we should work on perseverance and grace.
Romans 5:3-5 says “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
When we fail, we will suffer. It could be suffering spiritually, physically, emotionally or all three. When we are suffering, we can either be traumatized by it or we can be transformed, and that goes the same with our children. We can make it part of who we are, or we can use it as a building block to something greater. For you and your children, to be transformed, you need to persevere, which builds character and hope. And although failures feel embarrassing and shameful, we shouldn’t be ashamed because of God’s love that is given to us.
As a parent, to help our children persevere, we can show them God’s grace which is the ultimate sign of encouragement
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 say’s “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
Does this mean, we push them to fail? By no means, that would make us terrible parents, but we can’t protect them from every failure. Your child will fail at some point, so take those opportunities to teach and experience the grace of God.