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Persistence, Perseverance and Pathways for Parents - Failure is an Option!

By Stu Harris, Dublin City Schools Board member

On Feb. 29, Be Well 2: A Parent University Event by Dublin and Hilliard Schools will take place at Emerald Campus and Hilliard Darby. This partnership event focuses on student social and emotional well-being. Each location is offering some fantastic free sessions around student mental health topics and course registration is now open.

One of the events that day will be a keynote speech by Author Jessica Lahey at 9 a.m. at Hilliard Darby. Her book, “The Gift of Failure” has been the topic of community book talks this winter.

Parents, teachers and coaches are key contributors to the success and emotional intelligence of our children. On the path to success, our children must also face failures. Wait-- failures? Yes, failures are necessary to build character, resiliency and grit.

This is the key lesson of Lahey’s book. “The Gift of Failure” tackles the problem of overprotective parents “rush[ing] to school to deliver forgotten assignments, challenging teachers on report card disappointments, masterminding children’s friendships, and interfering on the playing field.” Sound familiar? It does to me too—our oldest son once informed me that I was-- by far-- the number one parent user of Progress Book (precursor to Schoology). My wife definitely delivered plenty of forgotten lunches.

The book quantifies the balance between helping your child to successfully reach goals and navigate life’s challenges while also watching or allowing them to fail. The ability to recover from adversity and persevering upon failure are central to a strong character. The author provides an excellent overview of elementary, middle and high school parenting coaching moments that are very helpful.

So where do we draw the line as parents? Many of us have helped too much with homework and projects. That’s still good-- just don’t do all the work. It’s ok if the science project is a little messy. It’s great to know and ask about every class your son or daughter has and what they did in class that day.

If you can coach or volunteer—do it--this gives you an opportunity to offer guidance and know-how to a group of kids including yours--it’s a most rewarding experience!

We have had several book talks this winter, discussing the book’s applications across levels. In particular, I wondered about delivering a forgotten lunch to a first grader for example. Or what if another student called your son or daughter names on the playground? What are the possible responses?

How about your middle/high school age son or daughter considering a difficult conversation with a teacher or coach? For sure, parents should talk through the issues with them and then send them solo to talk to the coach or teacher—it works much better, preparing our kids for these kinds of conversations in the future.

In Dublin City Schools, we are united with our parents to develop students with resilience, kindness, and perseverance. We strive to do this with the Dublin Difference for our buildings, staff, and teachers. Take a look at the Dublin Difference and our Profile of a Graduate. We look forward to seeing you on Leap Day with our special guest author.