The One Gift Your Teen Needs This School Year

We know that strength of character is built by learning through setbacks, mistakes, and miscalculations, so why is it so difficult to allow our kids to experience failure today?

We can thank our child’s school online parent portal app for starters.

As a loving and helpful parent, we open the grade portal to check in on our child’s academic progress, only to see that our son forgot to turn in his homework yesterday, and our daughter bombed her latest math quiz. How are we supposed to react now that this information is in our hands?

Are we really to look at it, shrug our shoulders and go about our normal existence without bringing this knowledge to our child’s attention?

That will never happen because we care about our kids. We care about how our students are doing. And even though we know that our child learning through their mistakes is healthy, we cannot help but communicate with our child, our disappointment in their choices and expect them to do better.

How are we supposed to let our child fail when this portal gives us timely information to help our students better succeed?

The online parent grade portal was never made as a tool to help us embrace failure, but instead, its presence in our lives and on our phones heightens our fear of our child messing up. (We are naturally drawn to the red lines telling us our kids aren’t up to par.)

We can also thank Life360 or the other tracking apps we have on our phones.

Of course, a loving parent would put a tracking app on their child’s phone to keep tabs on their loved one while they’re out navigating the world without us. With it, we’re even able to see how fast our new driver is going since he now takes himself to soccer practice. We set up notifications that tell us when our dear offspring arrives at the field and when they depart as well.

And all the while, we can’t help checking the app throughout the day creating anxiety and stress when we see that our child is not where they’re supposed to be or that they’re driving 9 miles over the speed limit, knowing that they could get pulled over at any moment.

With such ‘helpful’ not helpful parental tools at our fingertips, how are we, as loving parents, to embrace failure as a gift when we can so quickly help our loved one succeed at every turn instead?

We can start by removing these ‘helpful’ apps from our phones and reading the book The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey, where the author helps parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s setbacks along with their success.


Parents want to raise resourceful, persistent, innovative, and resilient citizens yet, culture has us confused about how to do that, and Lahey’s book is the perfect aide to help us get back on track.

Thanks to modern parenting styles and technology, we are launching kids into adulthood without the proper skills and mindset they need to be successful. If we continue to parent in an overbearing manner, our son or daughter may become ill-equipped to deal with ordinary life experiences or cope with everyday disappointments.

We must decide to step back and allow our children to struggle more because it’s what’s best for them. We must choose to remove the ‘helpful’ apps from our phones and let our sons and daughters fail and make mistakes. Lahey helps us shift our mindset to welcome the errors our child will make as a regular part of growing up.


In The Gift of Failure, Lahey teaches us how to purposely lead our children into discomfort, strengthening their character and resolve. She guides us to understand how to be interested, yet not intrusive. Lahey helps us grasp why we must allow our children chances to step up, try, fail, and try again until they get it right. She also teaches us how to enable our children to survive their failures, earn their triumphs, and expect them to contribute to the family household.

The Gift of Failure has targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. The book helps parents understand why they need to step back and embrace their children’s setbacks along with their successes so they can thrive and grow into independent, confident adults.

Check out my favorite parenting books at my Parent on Purpose Amazon Store!

11 replies
  1. Brooke
    Brooke says:

    I ah e a tween who is just entering this stage of needing to take on more responsibility and yet I know allowing him to accept the consequences for failures is important. So I’d love to read this book…

  2. Amy Eversole
    Amy Eversole says:

    This is something I struggle with as I have a bright almost teenager with ADHD. While he is bright, he flat out “doesn’t care,” and it’s hard to let him fail. I know he can do better. I do know that there is a risk in doing too much. At some point, he can’t depend on me and I need to teach that sooner rather than later.

    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      Hi Monica! You are the winner of The Gift of Failure book! Please check your inbox for your email confirmation! Thanks, everyone for taking the time to read my blog!

  3. Barbro Checkett
    Barbro Checkett says:

    Hi Amy! I definitely need to read this book! I was brought up in a house where failure was not an option. I have trouble letting my kids fail and try to “soften” life situations for them with all of my being. I could certainly use more help and growth in this area. Your book has taught me so much in as well, but more information would be fantastic. Thank you for all the help you provide our community on this wonderful parenting journey.

  4. Amy Nelson
    Amy Nelson says:

    My eyes are just opening to recognize the true gift of failure, setbacks, etc. Somewhere along the way, I learned to offer “protection,” “avoidance of pain,” “helicopter parenting” thinking these were gifts to my teen. But now I see that these have only crippled him with much more pain down the road. I can’t wait to dive into this book!

  5. Elizabeth M.
    Elizabeth M. says:

    This book sounds fabulous! As an educator and an academic advisor, I see this all too often! I meet with a lot of students who went through a time period when they were doing poorly in school. Then after they get out into the world and get some real-life experience, they figure out what they want to do. They come back to school motivated ,and they usually want to finish as soon as possible. However, it really has to come from them. As a stepparent, it is difficult not to step in when I see my stepdaughter struggling, but I try to focus more on strategies she can use with schoolwork or life to be successful rather than just grades.

  6. Peggy Farrell
    Peggy Farrell says:

    As a friend and pastor wife trying to encourage parents in today’s world, this book would be a great resource to glean from and share with others


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