The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Gripping…how can teachers snatch back their critical role and give children the necessary space to fail? They could start by making parents read Lahey.” — New York Times Book Review

In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom.

Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children succeed.

Jessica Lahey writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for The Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Atlantic and is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She is a member of the Amazon Studios Thought Leader Board and wrote the curriculum for Amazon Kids’ The Stinky and Dirty Show. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two sons.