Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Having the Courage to Let my Child Fail

The righteous may fall seven times but still get up...
Proverbs 24:16, CEB

The mama bear in me growls, “I’ll protect my child against danger, disappointment, and discontent! After all, I want Bethany to be safe, happy, and occupied at all times.”

I think most parents lean toward making their child’s life lovely; beautiful, safe, enriched, and happy.

When Bethany was born with Down Syndrome, I took that charge to a whole new level. After all, isn't there more reason to protect someone who is defenseless and unable to navigate the depths of life?

As Bethany is now 16, and adulthood is quickly approaching, I’m constantly reminding myself, my job, my goal as her mom is to step back from “high alert protection mode” and allow her to grow up. Ugh!

Thank God, my awesome hubby, Jeff, has a different, more adventurous approach to parenting! Daddy takes Bethany driving in his convertible almost weekly. First, it was driving circles in parking lots, now its country roads. She’s driving about 35 mph and doing a good job.

Jeff is much better at helping Bethany grow up than I am!  I’m all kinds of nervous. I can think of every good reason not to get her hopes up that she will be able to first, take the driver’s test and be able to pass, and secondly, that she will have the ability to process the multitude of occurrences that happen while driving. Factor in crazy drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, drunk drivers, cell phone drivers, and fast traffic, and I could just about have a break down when I think about it.

But Bethany really wants to be able to drive.

Jeff is helping me understand that failure is not the opposite of success but part of success. Bethany will never know what she can achieve unless she tries.

When I try to protect her from failing, I’m crippling her future and undermining God's work of instilling perseverance into her character.

The truth is life is full of many failures that teach us to learn so we can do better the next time. Life is all about trying and failing, practicing and changing, and ultimately, growing in maturity. If I don’t want Bethany to remain childlike, I need to have courage to let her fail.

Bethany drives Daddy's convertible on a beautiful Kansas day!

“The work of trying over and over again” cultivates character and strength. Failing is the part of learning that leads to success.

I want Bethany to succeed and mature: that's why this "mama bear" is learning to have the courage to let Bethany fail.

Dear Father,
Help us to parent our children with courage and faith. Help us not be afraid of failing but see it as an opportunity to grow. As our children grow up, teach us to encourage them and cheer them on through their successes and their failures.In Jesus Name, Amen.

Cindy Barclay


  1. Hmmm. Truth to be told... I have to overcome worry and concern as much as Cindy. As a little guy I was very shy and timid. My mom and elementary teachers would attest to that. But I am grateful for those during my middle school years that challenged me to "break-out" and risk failure. It worked. I failed embarrassingly often. But I also grew through my many stumbles. I love watching Bethany press on through her failures. She is an inspiration to all that know her! Especially her family!!!

  2. A man I play bridge with has a mosaic down syndrome son 22. Difficult to diagnose, not obvious to teachers,etc., and often victim to expectations from adults that are unfair. However, he is growing, learning, trusting that people will know his desire to please if not his ability. He really is a blessing to many of us as we watch, and as we see our previous beliefs in his limitations being shattered.

  3. This is so difficult for me to do. xo