Get the key ideas from

The Gift of Failure

How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

By Jessica Lahey
13-minute read
Audio available
The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey

In The Gift of Failure (2015), Lahey offers compelling reasons for caregivers to relinquish control over their children and let them fail. By taking this approach, Lahey argues, it will give children an important opportunity to learn about their values and skills, while strengthening their confidence, autonomy and sense of responsibility.

  • Parents and caregivers
  • Teachers
  • Anyone working with children

Jessica Lahey is an author, journalist and speaker. She writes a biweekly column for The New York Times and is a contributing writer at The Atlantic magazine.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

The Gift of Failure

How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

By Jessica Lahey
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
Synopsis

In The Gift of Failure (2015), Lahey offers compelling reasons for caregivers to relinquish control over their children and let them fail. By taking this approach, Lahey argues, it will give children an important opportunity to learn about their values and skills, while strengthening their confidence, autonomy and sense of responsibility.

Key idea 1 of 8

Our view on children and their education has changed throughout history.

Today the predominant parenting style involves protecting and sheltering our children until they leave the family nest. But it wasn’t always like this.

In the past, children’s education was geared toward early autonomy. In fact, in seventeenth century New England, work took precedence over children’s education. Due to poor health and mass poverty, many children died, and those who survived had to help their parents with the household or on the farm as soon as they were able.

Around this time, philosopher John Locke advised parents to let their children make mistakes and face the consequences. Failing to do this would only weaken their minds and prevent them from getting back up and trying again when they fail.

Over the next few hundred years, children’s life continued to be tough. In nineteenth century America, nearly one out of six children between the ages of 10 and 15 were employed, mostly in factories. Teenagers weren’t seen as sensitive, developing children, but as practical, cheap labor.

Later, a change in working circumstances and family structures allowed parents to focus more on their child. Dangerous child labor practices in the early twentieth century gave rise to regulations which prohibited children under a certain age to work.

From then on, children went from being “useful“ to “useless” in their families. Combined with growing divorce rates and couples having fewer children later in life, children’s education became more centered on caring for children as developing adults.

Psychological books about children’s education also became popular, like Nathaniel Branden’s 1969 bestseller The Psychology of Self-Esteem. Branden argued that self-esteem played the most central part in a child’s behavior. According to psychologist Jean Twenge, the self-esteem movement reinforced self-esteem in American society but, at the same time, turned people into narcissists.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.