By Jessica Lahey
Harper, 272 pgs. Nonfiction
Jessica Lahey is both a parent and an educator. In “The Gift of Failure” she provides advice for parents using both personal and professional experiences. What her message boils down to is “Back off.”
Parents have a natural and understandable desire to help and guide their children past the difficulties of growing up. But Lahey is convinced that these instincts need to be reined in to allow kids to learn about consequences. They need to learn that success comes from hard work and taking chances. Children should never lose their desire to try new things and stretch themselves to the point that they may fail. But that failure can lead them to rising back up with confidence and without fear.
What I most appreciated in Lahey’s book were the real life examples and specific suggestions for parents to use with their children in different contexts and at different stages of a child’s development. Her conversational tone is upbeat and encouraging. She acknowledges that a change in parenting style is going to take hard work with plenty of setbacks and slip-ups. But being able to prepare your children to meet the challenges of adult life is well worth the struggle.