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.
Praise For The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed…
— New York Times Book Review
“Instead of lecturing us about what we’re doing wrong, Jessica Lahey reveals what she did wrong with her own children and students—and how she systematically reformed her ways. A refreshing, practical book for parents who want to raise resilient kids but aren’t sure how to start.”
— Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World
“This fascinating, thought-provoking book shows that to help children succeed, we must allow them to fail. Essential reading for parents, teachers, coaches, psychologists, and anyone else who wants to guide children towards lives of independence, creativity, and courage.”
— Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this book. The Gift of Failure is beautifully written; it’s deeply researched; but most of all it’s the one book we all need to read if we want to instill the next generation with confidence and joy.”
— Susan Cain, author of Quiet
“Lahey offers one of the most important parenting messages of our times: Unless we allow our children to learn how to take on challenges, they won’t thrive in school and in life. Her extremely helpful book tells her story, compiles research, and provides hundreds of doable suggestions.”
— Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making
“How can we help our children grow to be resourceful, happy adults? Lahey shows in practical terms how to know what your child is ready for and how to offer support even as you encourage autonomy. A wise, engaging book, steeped in scientific research and tempered with common sense.”
— Daniel T. Willingham, PhD, author of Why Don't Students Like School?
“Through an artful combination of anecdote and research, Lahey delivers a lesson that moms and dads badly need to learn: that failure is vital to children’s success. Any parent who pines for a saner, more informed approach to child-rearing should read this book.”
— Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun
“Lahey has many wise and helpful words...ones that any parent can and should embrace.”
— Publishers Weekly
Harper Paperbacks, 9780062299253, 304pp.
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
About the Author
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.