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What I want my kids to know when they fail

April 27th, 2010

What do you teach your kids about failure? How do you respond when they fail? WHEN they fail, not IF they fail.

Perhaps they worked hard and still got a low grade in class. Or they froze during a public speech. Or they cheated on a test.

Last week I heard this story that really touched me. A high school boy, a leader in his youth group, called up his youth pastor at two in the morning. “I feel horrible. I just had sex with my girlfriend.” he confessed to the pastor. The pastor was stunned. Both the boy and his girlfriend were involved in their church, upstanding Christians in everyone’s eye. This was not want he expected to hear. “Let’s have breakfast in the morning. We’ll talk about it then,” he replied.

All night, the youth pastor struggled with what to say to the boy. What would you do in a situation like this?  Early the next morning, the pastor sat across from the boy and began his prepared speech. “I want you to know that I love you, and God loves you. It is God’s love that leads us to repentance. You can receive full forgiveness by…” At this point, the boy interrupted the pastor. “You don’t need to go on. I did not have sex with my girlfriend. I just wanted to see how you would respond!”

Oh…! Would you have passed the test??

While as parents we  challenge our children to live high standards, it must be balanced with the explicit understanding that when they fail, all is not lost. After all, we’ve all been there too. None of us are perfect, so why should we be shocked when our children fall?

One of the biggest issues you hear from grown adults is that they feel they’ve failed their parents. Even adults living successful lives often think they have not met their parent’s expectations. They are never quite good enough and are shameful of disappointing their parents.

I want my children to know that when they fail, I will forgive them, I will not reject them, and I will help them recover.  In a previous post, I talked about a boy caught with cyberbullying.  He now attends an alternative school. I hope he does not let this failure consume him. He can get back on track and fulfill his potentials.

What Maurice Cheeks demonstrated here is a picture of what parents can do for their kids.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

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  1. Ok, I am officially in love with Maurice Cheeks, and yet prior to this video, I had never heard of him!!!
    I am also crying for that girl!
    great post-I believe that failing is learning..and support my kids through it when it happens..I am constantly irritated when during sports events all the kids receive awards, even the losers. I think it is good to know how to accept failure and move on. Doesnt it also help you to strive to be better if it is handled well? thanks Katy!

  2. Isn’t Maurice awesome! I suppose if we know basketball, we would’ve heard of him. But I just heard of him myself.


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