Given the Ability to Fail

A common theme within our family conversations as of late center around the ability to fail. We, the Flingers, believe failure is not only acceptable, but completely necessary. Taking away the ability to fail creates a chasm between lessons ultimately preventing the ability to make the proper choice later.

We let our children fail.

We allow ourselves to fail.

We analyze, talk about, and come back from our failures.

Failing. Is. Ok.

It’s hard, as a mother, to allow your children to fall knowing you could’ve stopped it. It’s hard to watch them struggle when you can simply step in and complete it with them twice as fast. It’s difficult to hash out topics with your spouse knowing you’ll disagree or patiently waiting on a promise you’re skeptical will come true.

It is the same in my family. It is the same in my government. It is the same in the schools. Failing. Is. Ok.

My dad talks about how he flunked out of college. He attended Texas A&M and failed his freshman year. He went in to the Army, “played soldier”, came back and finished up his Bachelor degree. He went on to complete a MBA and a Doctorate. My dad flunked out of college and holds the highest degree you can attain. Had he never failed, he may never have pursued with such passion the education he now gives to other graduate students.



My undergraduate degree is in Exercise and Sport Science. My Dad, the one with all that insight, told me to go in to computer programming. I said no. I wanted to be a dietitian. I wanted to create workouts for people. I wanted to find my own path.

Ten years later I got a Masters in Information Technology because I failed at finding a job in Exercise Science. I failed at earning a living. I failed at having perspective. I failed at realizing what a passion I had for programming. Having that hindsight, I find myself working in a job I adore doing something I’m passionate about with people I enjoy.


It’s a strange concept, to allow failure. So many of us want to help, prevent, provide against it. As parents we cringe at our child’s decisions. We can guide them, we can shape them, we can offer our opinions, but we can not choose for them. It is their choice, it is their lesson, it is their failure.

And that is ok.

I’m trying desperately to allow small failures realizing it will guide them as they mature. Tiny ways of learning now: how it is cold without a coat, how you can’t drink from the other side of the cup, that stepping in a puddle gets your shoes wet. I’m trying to allow those tiny lessons so the bigger ones won’t be so harsh.

But sometimes I fail at allowing their failure. I am a mother. Sometimes I over-protect. I fail.

And that is ok.

P.S. Yes yes, Easter was lovely thank you. You want pictures? OKTHENFINEDAMMIT. Twist my arm.




Posted: 5/4/2010