All mistakes serve a purpose

October 30, 2013

tools old best teacher

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”

That is, if you’re willing to recognize it. And learn.

What are your thoughts about mistakes?

I’m not a parent, but it seems to me that it’s hard for parents to let kids make mistakes and have that learning experience.  I’d love to hear from parents about this.

Or, I’d love to hear about a mistake you made that was a huge lesson.

Please share!

24 comments on “All mistakes serve a purpose
  1. Pam Houghton says:

    Carol – I wrote about this topic for a parenting magazine earlier in the year. Here is a link if you care to read. And yes, I agree with the sentiment that your best teacher is your last mistake.

  2. We have one child, and we made a pact when he was born not to hover over him. I’ve seen too many parents do this, and with one child there is nowhere for him to go to bounce things off sibs.

    So we’ve watched him make his mistakes and, at 20 and the opposing political views to ours, we continue to watch him make his mistakes. Not because he disagrees with us (it’s made for interesting dinnertime discussions) but that he stands up for what he believes and, in politics, there are always mistakes to be made. (I should have said poli sci is his major and passion.)

    This was a perfect seque for me to think about what we did RIGHT in parenting instead of always kicking myself, as others always do, about what we did wrong. Thanks, Carol!

    • admin says:

      I always wonder how I’d be, because I’m pretty over-protective of my dogs…maybe that’s unrelated. You know, lots of parents do things right and don’t give themselves credit, so I’m happy this post made you reflect on your successes!

  3. Barbara says:

    I feel so strongly about this. Maybe because I have a little sister who has two grown children who are, for the most part, dependent on her, emotionaly and monetarily, because she has not allowed them to fail – which has ended up, in my mind, as being an epic fail. I certainly don’t have parenting all figured out, but a couple of my 4 kids are in tough positions right now, through their own choices, frankly, and a couple are secure and happy and doing well in most aspects, again, through their own choices. I help when it’s absolutely necessary, but most often take the tack that I deny them the growth of figuring it out if I step in. I love them too much for that. One son asked me for money a couple years ago and I denied him – which ranks right up there at the top of the guilt list for a parent – but he’d asked before and I’d helped and he was making the same choices over and over – so I had to honestly tell him, “you’re not figuring it out and I don’t think you will until things get really difficult. Sorry, but I love you too much to say yes.” I love the quote.

    • admin says:

      Good for you! I can only imagine how hard it is to set those limits but to be able to see the greater good? It’s a gift.

  4. One of the best gifts we give our children is the ability to make choices, to reap the consequences–good and bad, and to be resilient. I had to watch a few bad mistakes play out, knowing it wasn’t my place to intervene but ready to do so when necessary. The good news is that my adult sons can take care of themselves, understand that choice comes with risk.

    I think ‘we’ are raising a generation of over-coddled children who won’t really know how to stand up for themselves and learn to handle life’s challenges!

    • admin says:

      There does seem to be a certain resilience that’s missing these days, and I agree that it comes from letting a few errors in judgment play out. I must’ve been a hard case for my parents, I was a repeat offender!

  5. Susan Adcox says:

    This is such a hard lesson. I think mothers are hard-wired to be fixers. But sometimes it’s much better not to fix things and let children either (a) fix them themselves or (b) just accept the fact that life contains difficulties.

  6. I just wrote a piece about this myself (The Best Advice I Never Got: Deliberate Failure). It’s so good to teach kids HOW to fail. HOW to learn from their failures and come back swinging. Ty Cobb holds the greatest batting average in MLB – and he failed more times than not. If we learned to fail as kids, the trials and errors of adulthood wouldn’t be so scary

  7. Amy says:

    My father would attest to one of his mistakes with me is letting me go forward and not giving me advice. He gives me the advice after the fact. Due to the economy, I was not able to make my house payment or my bills. I had to move in with a friend of mine. Not realizing, that I had to pay damage to the apartment, huge fees for getting out of the internet contract. Yes, I never learned how to deal with money, how to budget. I see that is one of the mistakes I made with my children, when they need something, you give them.

  8. Brenda Hook says:

    For years, I have told people that I don’t make mistakes… I experience “learning opportunities”. That is the same outlook I try to have toward my children’s actions, but it is difficult — especially when their safety may be at risk. My husband and I have four adult children between us, and all live on their own. We’ve encouraged each of them to take risks…. and consider any failure as a “learning opportunity.”

    • admin says:

      When I read all your parents doing such wise things, I realize how much it took for me to see my own mistakes as learning opportunities, when there was no parental support for that view. Kudos to you all!

  9. I hate making mistakes. My hub is so awesome to have around, cos he always makes me feel like a mistake is no big deal, “don’t beat yourself up about it” he says.

  10. Haralee says:

    Learning from mistakes takes maturity and self reflection. Some kids and many adults never learn those skills. We all have met people who are always right!

    • admin says:

      Some people just can’t take the time to think through “what’s the right thing to do” and then, after it’s too late, some just can’t own it and move on to the lesson.

  11. Pamela Mason says:

    The way this world is today – where all mistakes are recorded on smartphones and tablets, where kids’ fashion mistakes can be judged online by strangers, and perhaps even appear on television, YouTube, or Vine – it’s is wrenching for me to allow my sons to make their own mistakes. I remind them of these facts all the time, and get the eyeroll. But being on media and discovering that teens and young adults can be cruel and technology allows bullies to humiliate with little chance of being discovered until the damage is done, I continue to drill it in. The motto around this house when they were home was “Don’t do anything stupid.”

    • admin says:

      I hadn’t thought about that aspect of it. In the scheme of things, most mistakes are small but the big ones we hear about really do drive home the message that our online world isn’t as forgiving as life used to be

  12. Great topic Carol. As a mother of 2 sons in their 20’s I know how hard this can be. Even though I tried to let them learn from their mistakes most of the time, at times I was guilty of wanting to protect against that. And now from time to time I forget that they are grown young men! No problem though…They don’t hesitate to remind me!

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