I can’t do it! It’s too hard! I need your help! If you don’t help me with this, I will never get it done!
How many of these phrases with tears and frustration have we heard as parents? What are some of the feelings that come up when we hear these phrases? Guilt? Worry? Failure as a parent? Or, are you the perfectionist parent that just takes over if they aren’t doing the job you would do? Too many times we feel that we must do something to help our children get through tough times. As a result, we tend to go out of our way to help them achieve certain tasks. We will help them clean up their room, do their laundry, help them do their reports and many other things to make sure our child does not struggle or fail. But is that what God commands us to do as parents in the Bible? Is it healthy for our children?
Perseverance is Important
In James 1:2-4 it says “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
In Romans 5:3-5, it says “ 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
CS Lewis stated “God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”
So what does that mean to us as parents? It means that letting our children struggle and even fail is important for our children to learn perseverance and maturity. The fact is that our children will struggle at times. Sometimes they will struggle because of poor decisions they have made. Other times they will struggle because something is difficult for them. Other times they will struggle in relationships.
There are so many things our children will struggle with in life. But many of these struggles they will need to go through themselves to become stronger, more mature adults. You want them to learn how to overcome a problem they are faced with so that when they are out of the house, they have the confidence, reasoning skills, and wisdom to persevere through the situation and make the best decisions.
Failure is NOT the End of the World
Letting our children fail is a big stepping stone for our children. It can help them see the power of overcoming a difficulty. It can help them to grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It will teach them to learn from their mistakes and to not repeat them. If they struggle with a small task such as a school project, cleaning, or even fail at winning a game in sports, it will allow them to experience the frustration and learn from their mistakes so they are not shocked or overwhelmed when they are faced with a bigger problem or failure later down the road.
I will let some quotes from famous people emphasize the importance of growing through failure:
- C.S Lewis: “Failures are finger(sign) posts on the road to achievement”. – Failures can help guide us to future successes.
- George Washington Carver: “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” - How many of our children’s failures lead to excuses? Teaching them to stop making excuses is a way to lead from failure to success.
- Oswald Chambers: “Sum up the life of Jesus by any other standard than God's, and it is an anticlimax of failure.” – We need to remember to look at everything through God’s eyes. What may be failure in man’s eyes may be a success in God’s.
- G.V. Wigram: “When people fail, we are inclined to find fault with them, but if you look more closely, you will find that God had some particular truth for them to learn, which the trouble they are in is to teach them.” – Always teach our children to look at what God is teaching them, both in success and failure.
- Johnny Cash: “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space." – Our children will use the stepping stones of perseverance and failure to become more mature in Christ and as adults.
- Samuel Smiles- “We learn wisdom from failure much more than success. We often discover what we will do, by finding out what we will not do." – We have to realize that there is much wisdom for our children to learn from failure.
Perfect Love Drives Out Fear
Too many times we as parents are fearful for our children. We are fearful of them failing. We are fearful they will not get into the college of our dreams. We are fearful they will get hurt along the way. But 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Our fear, just as it is a hindrance in our own spiritual growth, is a hindrance to our children’s maturity. God does not want us to be fearful of our children’s struggles and failures. He has a plan. He will use those struggles and failures to grow our children into men and women that we can’t even possibly imagine. We need to remember that God is in control and his ultimate success in our children’s lives will consist of a series of struggles and failures. He, with the help of our guidance, will grow and mature our children into Godly men and women.
Read last week's post Should a Failing Student Be Promoted to the Next Grade?