A Lesson about Failure: A Letter to my Kids



Dear sweet children,

Let me start by telling you that parenting is hard. Not only because parents have to make decisions every day that will best benefit you, but also because we have to teach you to be the best human beings possible. And, much of that comes from leading by example.

This is a hard because I’ll be the first to say that I am not perfect, and I am still figuring out how to react to certain situations myself. I know you are watching my every step, every reaction. It makes me wonder every day, am I doing a good job?

Recently you saw me fail.  You saw me struggle.  You saw my disappointment and my tears. 

I know you will remember the day that I opened that letter.  The one I had been anxiously awaiting. The letter that held my fate.

I had been working so hard to get accepted into a program at my school. You had seen me go to class, study, and spend time away from you. Even when I didn’t feel like doing all that, I just did it. Sometimes it took a lot of willpower, because I had a goal in my mind. Even when I knew that my chances were slim to get in, I tried anyway.

We all held our breath as I tore open the letter, and I couldn’t hide the tears as I read the words. I didn’t get in. It was a dreaded rejection letter. As you saw my face of disappointment, I tried to determine whether or not I should let you know that I had failed.

I remember your sweet words and how you tried to make me smile. At that moment I realized that the way I reacted to this disappointment could possibly shape your future self. Because, my sweet children, failure is inevitable in this journey of life.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable even if you’ve tried your best.

As you grow up and you keep learning, this is what I want you to remember:

Failure doesn’t mean you are not good enough.

Oh, boy! I wish I could tell you that this comes easy. The truth is that I still struggle with this. I know I’m your mom and a grown up; I should be better at this, right? The thing is that my negative self talk gets to me sometimes. I have learned to quiet that voice and you will learn that, too.

You have to learn to move forward.

Sometimes you might find it hard to muster up any more motivation. I get it – I have been through that, too. You will question yourself and you will reconsider your goals. Believe me, if you really want it, it’s worth it. You have to keep moving forward and reaching for your goals, no matter the set back.

People who love you will always be proud of your efforts.

I have seen this first hand. Your grandma has always been there for me in my successes and in my failures. There have been others though who saw me struggle, watched me fall, and yet continued to cheer for me as I got back on my feet. Don’t ever forget that we have your back.

It’s okay to mourn your losses.

I know it sounds weird, but sometimes it will feel like you lost something. It could be time, it could be effort. It could be the subtle blow to your pride. It’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to shed a few tears. But, dear children, don’t dwell on it, because that feeling will pass.  Mourn your losses and then press forward. 

As I’m trying to figure out what’s next, I realize that the best thing I have are you and your dad as my most encouraging support system. If you only knew how your hugs and kisses picked me up when I was down. Your sweet words of encouragement made me forget that rejection letter. That afternoon, as we baked cookies, I realized I will always be scared of failure. 

However, my biggest fear is not facing another rejection letter.  My biggest fear is to fail you, my sweet children. And while I can’t promise I won’t ever fail again, I will promise to always give everything my all.


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