Sometimes, your child might want to try out for a sport or take art lessons, even when you know she really doesn’t have the aptitude for it. It is tempting to discourage her from trying, because it is hard to watch your child try but not be successful. A friend of mine, who I taught many years ago, recently posted to Facebook a particularly thoughtful way to think about how to handle this situation. The following is what he said (edited for clarity and used with his permission):
“I watched a dad on Saturday be the father I hope I can be. His son had a [physical] disability--not sure what it was, but he had muscular issues. The son wanted to try out for a fall baseball team. The coaches worked with his dad to find him a bat he could swing to give him a chance. The dad didn't say, “No son. Don't try. You can't do it.” He said, “Just try and do your best.”
When did we stop letting our children try because we are too afraid they might fail? The father told him to try his best and hope for the best…That has stuck with me, and the more I think about it the more I smile. I think about my parents who always pushed me and let me try. Did I fail? Of course I did, but I learned to fight harder and want it more.
I just wanted to share this with all parents….Let's push our children to make sure they do their best. They might not succeed, but we shouldn't crush their dream because we are scared they might fail. Not succeeding isn't the worst thing. Not letting them try is the worst thing!”
Parents need to offer their children support by encouraging them to try new things, work hard, and do their best. The most successful people are the ones who work the hardest and experience some failure along the way. As Michael Jordan said, “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” Let your child know that no matter how well he does, you will be proud of his effort and hard work. And, don’t forget to tell him every day how much you love him.
Best wishes to all as we begin the 2015-16 school year! May it be the best one yet.