Jessica Lahey is a teacher, writer, and mom. Over twenty years, she’s taught every grade from sixth to twelfth in both public and private schools. Furthermore, she writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for The Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio, The Washington Post and the New York Times and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She inevitably lets us know that when our kids fail, it’s important that we let them. That’s what makes them resilient.
Jessica says modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness. Parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. Though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t allowing their children to experience disappointment, frustration and failure. They prevent the opportunity for their kids to fail, so they can learn to solve their own problems.
Every parent wants their children to be happy and wants to instinctively protect them from a world of struggle. However, some parents take “being supportive” to another level, are tend to be too involved and hover over their children. This can also be described by the term “helicopter parenting”. Such parent behaviour deprives your children of the feeling of independence and thinking for oneself. Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education since it makes them doubt their own abilities when they don’t get the chance to figure things out on their own.
Preventing our kids from failing and getting hurt to intervene, is a parental behaviour that is present when our kids are toddlers, up to when they attend college. The world we live in, at times can be harsh and cruel. We need to create children that can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults. This can be achieved when we allow our kids to fail.
In this episode, Jessica Lahey talks about how parents can step back from their instincts and embrace when their kids fail. She provides advice for handling everyday situations from schoolwork to social dynamics and how by letting our children fail, we’re actually setting them up to succeed.
Jessica is a member of the Amazon Studios Thought Leader Board and wrote the educational curriculum for Amazon Kids’ The Stinky and Dirty Show. She earned a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and a J.D. in law from the University of North Carolina. Currently, Jessica lives in Vermont with her husband and two sons and her second book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence, is set to be released in April.
Resources & Links
Buy the Book: Gift of Failure