Posts tagged with ‘help our kids fail’

24 nov

The 3 Ways We (Accidentally) Help Our Kids Fail

JayForteI know we don’t mean to help our kids fail; sometimes we just do too much for them – we don’t make them do their work. Maybe we love them too much and want their lives to be easy. But too much of the wrong kind of help doesn’t prepare them define who they are, identify their talents, find their best place in the world and own their lives. I am a father of three daughters. I have learned some things that I feel have prepared them to step up and stand out in their lives – to own their lives. And I thought it was worth sharing.

My personal perspective is that the greatest gift we receive in life is the ability to invent our lives – we can create each day in the way we choose. And what we need to help us invent extraordinary lives – extraordinary according to our terms – we already have. We are born with unique talents and strengths (gifts) that exhibit themselves through our abilities and passions. We are great at some things, not others. We love some things and not others. Each of us is unique. Each of us is different. Learning about this difference is the key to inventing our most amazing lives, and helping our kids invent theirs.

For example, I am good at and love details, precision, social research and writing. My kids are not at all like this. They are more social, more scientific and are more take-charge. They would hate my job. And though I may feel that my job would be good fit for them and would give the resources to be successful in life, they don’t feel this. They must get up each morning and be thrilled by life. Following in my footsteps is not be the best choice for any or all of them. They need to choose for themselves those things that play to their particular talents, interests and passions. This is how they become successful. This is not what many parents do.

As a greatness coach and a parent, here are the most significant three ways I see that we (accidentally) help our kids to fail:

1. We do not help them know themselves – what they are good at and what they are passionate about. So many of today’s kids are very self-unaware; they have little sense of who they are, what their talents are and what they are passionate about. They go through life on autopilot – being directed by parents and friends – doing very little of their own thinking.

It is our role as parents to help them learn how to identify their talents, interests and passions. Many times our talents are so closely connected to how we think that we have a difficult time identifying them. This is a great opportunity for parents to share what they see in their kids and dialog about it. Catching a kid doing something great, and commenting on it, helps him notice his behaviors. And as much as we learn about what we do well, we also learn about what we don’t do well – also critical information. We aren’t good at everything but we each are good at some things. Learn to identify those things and we help our children learn to play to their strengths.

2. We don’t show them enough of their world, and talk to them about their options, so they can choose wisely in work and life. Critical to their success in life is first to know themselves, then to know their world. Their greatest success and happiness will be in finding places in their world that allow them to use what they are great – to have their greatest impact. For that, they must know their world to be able to choose wisely.

Connecting to what our kids are seeing and hearing is critical – particularly in today’s intellectual age. Kids see so much more than their Boomer parents saw at their age. And this information needs conversation – to help them become aware of what appeals to them and what does not. Family vacations, reading together, reviewing websites together, learning projects and being active in the community are ways to show kids what things are available – how large the world is. The more kids start to show interest in areas, the more they should be encouraged to investigate careers and work in those areas.

3. We define happiness for them by telling them who they should be, what they should do for work and how they should live. Many parents believe they know better so they choose their kid’s life directions. I remember telling my father as he told me what my profession was to be, that for me to be successful, happy and own my life, the choice about who I am, what I do and how I live, must be mine. Parents take away life accountability when they dictate the steps of life. The more we encourage our kids to know themselves and to know their world, the better decisions they will make about their lives. This allow us to be the guide from the side in their lives – available for counsel but always relinquishing the decision to the life owner. This is critical to help create the next generation of responsible, happy and personally successful people.

Each of us receives the gift of inventing one life – our own. It is entirely our choice how large or small we invent that life. In my coaching, I regularly see that parents want to ensure their children have happy and successful lives, so they take over and dictate life’s decisions. This generally creates the opposite response – instead of helping our kids feel successful and love their lives, they become unhappy and disappointed, feeling like they are living someone else’s life.

Our greatest role is to prepare our kids to take the baton and run their lives. We help them run successfully when we guide them to discover their unique greatness, understand their world, then find their best fit. There is a great place for each of us in life. Find that place and we love our lives. And loving life is what we want most for our kids.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, and greatness coach. He is the author of The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World, and Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition. His coaching and programs inspire executives, employees, parents and students to discover and play to their greatness, to live and work with passion, power and purpose. More information at and

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Posted by Jay Forte on November 24th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,