Parents: Failure is part of the deal for your kids

Collin Hansen has an excellent article on the cult of self-esteem in our culture and helping children to handle failure. He concludes it well when he writes this:

This last part strikes me as most difficult for Christian parents. We rightly want to shield our children from the pain of sin, especially the sort we have shamefully and regrettably indulged in. To be clear, this is a good thing. Responsible parents keep pornography out of the home, take interest in education, and warn their children against bad influences.

At the same time, we must avoid leaving the impression that failure can be avoided altogether. How do we make this mistake? We might create false expectations by preventing our children from befriending any unbelievers. Or packing their schedules only with esteem-boosting, organized activities. Or letting them off the hook from doing household chores. Or teaching the moral lessons of Scripture and ignoring the litany of failures pointing toward our need for a Savior who never fails us.

And what if you don’t teach your children how to overcome by the grace of God and power of the Holy Spirit by patiently enduring their failures? They’ll find out the truth anyway, the hard way. They’ll see failure in church with the backbiting, gossip, power plays, and judgmentalism. They’ll see it in themselves when they struggle with doubts and no one will listen. They’ll see it in you and wonder why you can’t just admit it.

If you don’t teach them that Christians sometimes fail, then they’ll conclude Christianity has failed. But by the grace of God they’ll add to the numbers of bitter adults who grew up in the church and rail against its destructive influence. Yet when they see us fail, repent, and ask God’s forgiveness, they’ll see in action the most glorious truth of all, that God himself took on flesh and walked among us, failures all, so we might walk with him in heaven forevermore. They’ll know that when they fail, too, God’s grace abounds to even the chief of sinners.

Parents, don’t fall into the trap of over-protecting your children so much that they fail to grow in maturity in faith. God will always be a better protector than you.


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