Winter cabin reflected in lake

Parent Question: Does my child’s failure, or success, reflect on me as a parent or as a person? I think everyone feels that success does, so doesn’t failure as well? If not, why not?

This is not only a great question, it’s also a tricky one…

Today I was researching other online parenting courses to see what the competition is out there and what’s available online to help parents. (We are planning to launch our own online parenting course this year! Stay tuned…)

In one of the testimonials about a course that I found, a parent wrote in that she had just been to a parent-teacher conference and the teacher was raving about what a great kid she had and would she come in and teach the other parents her secret to parenting success?

Statements like the above from a teacher are normal; when they have a good kid in their class, they naturally think the parents are doing a great job. And they are! And when a difficult kid shows up, it’s also natural to “blame the parent.” Our current culture promotes this kind of thinking.

We must recognize and acknowledge that our kids get their attitudes from us – both the productive ones and the unproductive ones. If your kid is lying, you must look at where there might be other dishonesties in the family; are you emotionally dishonest at times, not telling your true feelings about something? If your kid is stealing, we must look first at where that kind of dishonesty might be taking place in the family. If your child is disrespectful, we must look at where there is disrespect elsewhere in the home.

I’ve known parents who have done everything right, and their kid still will not cooperate. The parents have parented from a set of principles, focused on attitude, set high expectations and let go of outcomes, and are themselves inspiring in their own character. They have had to let go to the point that their teen could not live at home. These parents cannot blame themselves for what most people would see as a failure in the kid; rather, they must take confidence in the fact that they did everything they could and then had to completely let go. The end of this story is that the kid took a long road in finding his unique potential but ultimately came out a much stronger individual with a character foundation which reflected that of his parents.

It’s easy to blame ourselves when our kids are failing and to pat ourselves on the back when they are succeeding. But don’t take your confidence as a parent or person from either, and keep your focus on two things:

  • The long view – what do you want your kid to be like when they are 30?
  • Yourself – am I living the kind of life that is inspiring to my children?

Thanks for this question!