Tuesday, July 01, 2014

"Why I Want My Kids to Fail..."

From the messy desk of Paul Levine....

Today, I turn Naked Authors over to a guest blogger: the mother of two of my grandchildren, my daughter Wendy Levine Sachs.

Wendy is a frequent contributor to the Living Section of CNN.com.  Today, she writes about -- hold onto your hats -- "Why I Want My Kids to Fail." 

An excerpt:

We are the generation of drone parents hovering above and swaddling our kids in bubble wrap so they don't get hurt when they fall. In fact, we do everything possible to not let them fall. In an uber-competitive age where we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of perfection for our children, even from the womb, parents have bought into the myth of how to turn out successful people. We are living in a world of tutors, private lessons and specialized coaching, thoroughly believing that with all the right scaffolding, we can guarantee our kids WILL soar.
Ironically, at a time when our parenting culture is all about ensuring success, the innovative business culture of Silicon Valley celebrates failure. New York Magazine recently had a cover story called "The Failure Fetish of Silicon Valley." There are books, blogs and even conferences devoted to embracing the flop.
There's no stigma or shame. In fact, a failed venture is a notch in the belt, an honor of distinction, a bragging right. The founder of a start-up that goes belly up may even be courted to take the helm of another company. They turn failure into a rite of passage among the best and the brightest. Reinvent and move on -- that's the ethos of enterprising entrepreneurs today and perhaps that is a great lesson for parents, too.
I am reminded of a quotation from the great UCLA basketball coach and educator John Wooden: "Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts." Wendy's entire CNN column can be found here.

Paul Levine


  1. From Jacqueline; (at an airport and have been remembering your book tour advice, Paul). I remember, many years ago, an entrepreneur friend in the UK saying that failing in a business venture in the USA did not hold the stigma that attached it in Britain - there was instead a sense that you'd learned some lessons of great value on the way down. Pack a parachute on the next journey springs to mind!! Great post - and what a stunning daughter you have - in intelligence, wit - and of course, beauty. Hope I can post this!!

  2. From Jacqueline - the reason I was worried about posting was because I'm using my iPhone, which is sometimes an iffy process when posting a comment. Now my flight's delayed ...,

  3. A couple of days ago I saw my neighbor skateboarding down the driveway at my local Vons market. He was holding his one year old daughter in his arms--no helmet. I thought that was terribly dangerous. Then I remembered riding hellbent for leather in the back of a pickup with my friends and a couple of dogs, no seatbelts in cars, no bike helmets and was amazed any of us ever survived. We've become so protective over the years. I just hope that doesn't make young people devastated by failure when it happens because they've been so conditioned to believe they will always succeed. Makes it harder to try again.

  4. Do you mean that "helicopter" parents try
    Too hard to shelter their kids from experiencing failure?


  5. wow, very impressive and insightful.....

  6. james o. born7/02/2014 8:38 PM

    Excellent post. So much better than most of the mid week crap.

    Really, I agree with it completely. And the mid week stuff is entertaining.

    Jim Born