An article by a friend “Bring on the failure” set me thinking on the Indian parent’s attitude towards failure of their kids. We have been taught, as we grew up, that it is important to do well; very well in fact, and that it is not fashionable to fail ( to be read as achieving a below expected outcome)! That value is firmly entrenched in many of us, which has made us risk averse and afraid to experiment. I must say that a part of this conservatism has also got to do with the dearth of opportunities – be it in professional colleges or later when we started our careers. Thus, a perfect report card, an impeccable resume, was the need of the hour.
The scenario in India today presents a total contrast – the opportunity landscape has exploded, literally, compared to the time I completed high school and college. Exposure has also become far more global. We have learned through our professional “cross border” interactions that it is alright to fail, provided you infer what went wrong and move on to try again. We have learned that other societies do not frown as much on failure. Now, what are we doing with this learning? How are we equipping our kids to deal with failure? Are we, when push comes to shove, switching back to the “play safe and don’t be sorry” mode or are we encouraging our children to take calculated risks? Are we telling our children – it is ok to make mistakes, it is ok if you do not get the top grade all the time, it is alright if you do not get selected for the school team in a sport. But, do your best. Figure out what went wrong the earlier time and make another attempt.
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We have to be honest and think about how our upbringing and innermost attitudes play out in “crunch” situations, especially with our children. It is a tough thing to consciously adopt practices we believe stood us in good stead, while at the same time, adapting our style of parenting to today’s context. Inculcating the right attitude towards failure in our kids falls in the latter category. What do you think?
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