Failure is not an option. Be as good as your brother is. Take first place or I won’t be proud of you.
While these might not be phrases you’d actually say to your kids, you may communicate them more often than you realize. From talking with peers and children, I’ve realized how many kids grow up in the shadow of always trying to meet their parent’s expectations. Too many kids play a sport or work hard in school only to avoid parental disappointment. They live in a fear of failure, caused by the environment their parents create. This atmosphere can lead kids to feel that your love is conditional and fails to paint the picture of the way Christ truly loves us, in spite of our faults and shortcomings.
But we all want our kids to succeed, right? Our job is to motivate and push them beyond where they think they can go. We want them to recognize their potential, work hard, and be the very best. How, then, do you paint the picture for your kids to strive for success while walking in grace when they fail? Where is the balance in the win?
I’m fortunate enough to say that the days I lost the game, made a B on the test, or otherwise failed at the standards my parents and I had set together, their response was always the same: “Did you do your best?” Their words didn’t let me off the hook or push me towards laziness. Rather they motivated me to try a little harder next time all the while teaching me valuable lessons about God’s love, acceptance, and grace.
Your kids need to know that failure is a part of life. Failing isn’t our goal and it isn’t what’s best, but it happens. We all have those days. Why? Because we are all imperfect people. Don’t miss these moments to talk with your kids about why we as humans will always live in failure, no matter how hard we try. God is the only one who is perfect, but in His perfection, He has shown us grace and made a way for us to be seen as good in His eyes. Because of His sweet gift to us, His children, we should strive to live in such a way that pleases Him. We learn more about Him so that we can grow to be more like Him. We aim for success, but we know that in the midst of our failures, His love for us never changes.
A moment of failure for your child is a direct opportunity for you as a parent to show Christ’s love and share His standards of grace. Take some time today to think about the standards you have set for your kids and how you respond in the face of failure. Take some time to be reminded of the standards God has set for you and thank Him for His grace when you fail.