[5] real world parents: ages 11-12

happy friday! happy blackhawks stanley cup championship day! and, of course day 5 of our real world parents blog series.

today, wendy douglas shares her thoughts on encouraging failure while raising tweens.

“please lord let my children be successful at failure.” isn’t the usual prayer of a parent, especially not the parent of an eleven or twelve year old.

preteens or “tweens” are at the in-between developmental stage where they are in the process of sorting out all the information and values they are exposed to. they are reaching out, questioning, and testing. children at this age are in a time of transition while facing more “adult” issues at an earlier age and beginning to make decisions that will have long-lasting implications. they are constantly evaluating whether or not they are fitting in and receiving approval. this is an opportune time for us as parents and those in children’s ministry to help them define success and failure in god’s story.

success in god’s story means something very different than that of the world’s story. the world views success as how much we do and have materialistically while god’s story is about what we do and have in relationship with him. our view of this has to be through the eyes of god and not people of the world. this is something that has to be addressed with preteens as this is the age where friends and media become the basis of self-view.

from mark matlock’s book real world parents:

“our ability to trust god and become more and more like jesus comes through our experience of loss. and often that includes our failures. ‘consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.’ james 1:2-4

failure is one brand of trial. james tells us to embrace the trials because they lead to trusting god and trusting god-perseverance in faith-is the definition of success for a jesus-follower.”

an important part of success is failure. as parents and leaders we have many conversations on success, but very few on how to fail well. the first step has to be addressing a child’s innate fear of failure, and that fear can paralyze, slow down, and diminish faith in god. then, we need to stop minimizing the impact of failure. many times we are too quick to put a “band-aid” on it and move on. lastly, we need to stop being afraid to fail in front of our children. they learn best by our example.

having this conversation with preteens is a way to help them define themselves and what success is by who god is. encouraging them to have a radical faith-living and walking in god’s story.

so i will be that parent that prays that my preteen is successful at failure.

thank you, wendy! such a fantastic perspective. grateful for your encouragement and challenge today!

wendy douglas: also known as saved sister 7 on both on her blog and twitter, is a children’s leader at summit church kidz in tennessee. she is a wife and mother to 4 awesome guys!


One response to this post.

  1. Great insight Wendy, and thank you Amy for coordinating this entire series. I want my kids to grow up to be leaders and not followers, and one thing a leader can do, and will do, is solve problems. In doing this, they will encounter failure, and a mark of true leadership is how you deal with those failures. If we don’t allow them to fail and suffer the consequences of that failure when they are young we are really doing them a disservice. I find that most parents who won’t let their kids fail are giving in to their own selfish desires (it’s hard to see your kids hurt/fail) rather than considering the best interests of their kids. I’m with you on this one. I don’t think we need to pray for failure, that will come naturally. What I would pray is that my kids learn from that failure and become better followers of Christ because of it.

    Thanks again for this great article.


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