After hearing Jessica Lahey, author of the Gift of Failure, talk about the growth that occurs when we allow our kids to fail…

After hearing Dr. Dan Siegel talk about when to give your kids a little pushin’ and when to give them a little cushion…

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s REALLY HARD to know when and how to put this into practice.

Here’s my situation:
One of our daughters is having some difficulty with her school work, organizing herself and having self discipline.

Do I jump in (and risk over-parenting, and her not developing skills)?
Do I stand on the side and watch her struggle (this is hard to watch!)?
Do I engage her in a conversation to support her and ask her questions?

But the problem is…

Sometimes she does NOT want my help, AND sometimes she DOES.

Sometimes she overestimates her abilities. Other times she underestimates herself, and lets herself “off the hook”, rather than giving herself that extra little push.

While trying to figure out my next move, I wrote an open letter about the normal struggles of dealing with schoolwork, parents, and growing up.

I think this letter is relevant to parents of children of all ages!

Dear Daughter,

It’s totally normal….

To think that your parents are “out of touch”, uncool, and that they just don’t understand.

It’s also normal to see that sometimes your parents are actually pretty cool, they can be fun to hang out with, and they really get you.

It’s normal NOT to ask parents for help with school work because you want to figure it out yourself. And… It’s normal to ask parents for help with school work when you’re in over your head.

It’s normal to stay up super late sometimes and to sleep through your alarm, and even occasionally fall asleep in class. And… It’s also normal to go to bed early because you don’t want to be tired and miss out on the fun.

It’s normal to procrastinate school work if there is something really fun to do instead, or if you’re dealing with your social life. And… It’s normal to plan out school work, so you don’t have to worry so much about it.

It’s NOT normal to be perfect. People might look perfect on the outside. But it’s not normal to always get your work in on time; never forget your math homework, your permission slip, or your lunch. It’s not normal to always have your hair curled, makeup done, and nail polish color coordinated with your shirt.

But in reality, those “perfect” people don’t always do that… because no one can be perfect all the time.

It’s normal for your parents to feel unsettled because they’re not sure whether it’s time to hold on or to let go of you. And… It’s normal for parents to worry about you because they care about you more than their own life. It’s normal for parents to trust in you that you’re going to figure out the best solution for yourself and your life.

It’s normal for parents to help too much during times when you just want them to go away. And… It’s normal for parents to give you too much space during the times when you actually want their help.

It’s normal for parents to have a minor freak out–even when they try not to–because they got scared. And… It’s also normal for parents, in moments of grace, to be just the right person to talk to, at just the right time, who tells you exactly what you needed to hear.

It’s normal for your relationship with your parents to be kinda messy maybe even for a while. And… It’s also normal for things with your parents to go smoothly and easily, maybe even for a while.

My hope is that you will be gentle with me when you see that I’m doing something for you that you don’t need.

My promise to you is: I will be present for you without my own fears getting in the way.

I will see the goodness in you when you can’t see it in yourself.

I will remind you that the blue sky is still there when you can only see the clouds… (but not be annoying and patronizing about it!).

I will let you experience the kind of life you want to rather than fight to give you the life I dreamed you’d have.

I will consider when you might need a safety net even if you insist that you don’t.

And, I will be here to listen to you whenever you want it… especially if it’s late at night and there is ice cream available. :)

All my love,



What would you add to this letter for your own son or daughter?

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