Let Them Fail: Helping Your Child Become Socially & Emotionally Independent (Part 2)

We’ve all heard of the different types of parenting (gentle, tiger, and helicopter parents).   But there is a new type that is gaining more and more attention. This would be the snowplow (or bulldozer) parent.  These parents to anything and everything in their power to clear any and all obstacles from their child’s road of life.  It is their mission in life to not let their kids fail.

This includes (but is not limited to) the recent celebrity college scandal where several celebrities have been caught bribing admissions of Ivy League schools, or paying off test takers in order for their children to get into a top-notch school. The celebrity scandal is much about the ability of the rich to pay to get anything they want, but it is also indicative of this snowplow parenting trend.  Parents don’t want their kids to fail.  And while the reasoning is understandable, what parents aren’t understanding is that KIDS NEED TO FAIL.


Failure is what teaches so many life lessons:

-How to deal with the emotions of disappointment.

-How to find the gumption and determination to try again.

-Critical thinking and self-evaluation skills to try a new approach.

Creative thinking and inventive problem solving skills.

-Perseverance through failure after failure.

-It fuels desire and drive to improve and accomplish.

-How to be ok with delayed gratification.

-Hard work is necessary to succeed.

Then, after failing and trying again (and again), when your child succeeds at something ON THEIR OWN, they will learn pride.

When parents clear their child’s path of life’s obstacles, they rob their children of valuable life lessons.  And when kids grow up not learning these lessons, they are ill-equipped for the challenges that life will inevitably throw at them.  Sure, a parent can “drive their snowplow” to get their child into college, or to graduate college. They may even “bulldoze” their child right into a job.  But what happens when their child is rejected in a relationship?  What happens when that child has an extremely tough situation to get through?  How will they know how to cope and persevere when they’ve never learned how?

As parents our job is not to be snow plows, but to be of assistance to our kids if they need us.  Yes, we should let them fail, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer up advice, or our take on a situation.  Maybe they are having a relationship problem with a friend.  You can’t fix it for them, but you can help them navigate their thoughts and feelings.  You can share examples of how you handled similar situations in your own life.  And you can talk through possible solutions with them.  But when it comes down to it, you need to allow your kids the opportunities to make and learn from their own mistakes.  Let them fail.  If you don’t, you are failing them.