Keys To Safety-Net Parenting: Celebrating Passion And Failure
Safety-Net Parenting is about training your child and teaching him how to successfully navigate the rope of life with guidance and advice.
As parents we want so much for our children. We want them to find great friends, perform well on the field, court or stage, and we want them to do well in school. That will help them succeed as they become young adults. Maybe they’ll get into the college of their dreams. And, we parents want this so our children will be able to land wonderful careers and make oodles of money. We want this for them so they can afford to live in beautiful homes and provide for families of their own one day. But, why?
No success without happiness
Why do we want these successes for our children? If we ask ourselves this question enough, we parents eventually reach the same conclusion. We want our children to find success in life because we want them to be happy. It’s that simple. We want happy children and we assume finding success will get them to that destination.
What that means is that for our children to be successful, they need to be happy. Because being famous, having lots of money, and owning a big house, but feeling lonely and miserable isn’t success. It’s just reaching goals. Happiness needs to play a part in the scenario.
The importance of passion
That’s why Safety-Net Parents start with helping their children identify their passions early on in life. Passions are those areas and activities that you don’t have to force kids into. It’s what they’re drawn to, what they can’t get enough of, and what they love.
If we parents keep our eyes and ears open, we should be able to figure these out pretty easily: areas like art, photography, animals, writing, soccer, etc… It’s what our kids talk about, what they read, what they watch on TV, and what they explore on the internet.
When Safety-Net Parents recognize these passions, it’s our job to feed their fires, to encourage them, and to find the opportunities to explore these passions and possibly build them into strengths.
What is Safety-Net Parenting?
You might wonder what makes a Safety-Net Parent. You can find a description of all types of parenting styles in books and online: Free Range, Tiger Mom, Helicopter, Snowplow… But, the Safety-Net Parent stands out among these. If we imagine life as a high wire walk on a tight rope, the Safety-Net Parent trains her child, teaching him how to successfully navigate the rope, the slack, the wind and his nerves. She does the best she can with guidance and advice. Then, she shows her little one she believes in him, lets him know she thinks he’s ready and sends him up the ladder to walk the rope.
The Helicopter Parent straps a harness on her child. The Free Range Parent removes the balance bar and net. The Snow Plow Parent keeps the rope securely on the ground. And, the Tiger Mom pushes the child up the ladder although he’s never expressed an interest in tight rope walking.
But, the Safety-Net Parent secures her child’s rope, encourages him along the way, and allows him to stumble and even fall. The child experiences the discomfort of making mistakes in life, but the parent is there, the “safety-net”, to catch her child before he crashes. She dusts him off, advises what better to do next time and encourages him back up the ladder.
There’s no success without failure first
Failure is crucial for our children to experience while they are still with us so they can fail safely, while we’re around to catch them. Also, failure adds flavour to the success they will eventually find. How can you appreciate success when you’ve never known failure?
And, this is why Safety-Net Parents help their children identify their passions early on because it’s easier for children to climb back up that ladder when they fail to do what they love. It teaches young people perseverance because soon they see their improvement. That leads to confidence, which leads to working harder, and that’s precisely where success is found.
Do this enough with their passions, and our children realize this works even in the areas their not passionate about (maybe World History, running a 5K, or their part-time job). Suddenly our children are finding success not only in the areas they love, but in many more areas of life, and that means their careers, their health, their finances, their love lives, and their families. And, that’s how we get happy, successful children.
It starts with finding their passions, then letting them fail at them…because success is right around that corner.