My Kids Are Incredible Failures

My Kids Are Incredible Failures

We went golfing a few weeks back and I was struck by how awful my 10-year-old was at hitting the ball. Yet, he wouldn’t give up. Whiff after whiff, he kept swinging the club, and he even started having a little fun by imitating Happy Gilmore. My eyes filled with tears at what an incredible failure he was. Tears of laughter and tears of pride.

I have been thinking about this post for a while now, and I have talked with both of my sons about the message. I have a very difficult time writing about parenting because I don’t claim to be an effective parent. Yet. The success of my parenting skills will be determined much later, when my sons are living happy lives, uplifting others, and defining their own success. The proof is in the pudding.

My sons are not little princes. They are little people–well, actually, it is just months before BOTH of them are bigger than me. The thing I want them to learn more than anything in this whole world is that they make their own happiness. And I want them to learn how to make their own happiness. That mission means they need to fail a lot. They need to laugh, brush themselves off, learn from their mistakes, and move on. With a smile most of the time. Although, it is a little ironic that I’m writing this while parenting a 15-year-old boy. He does smile often, just not at me at this point in his life. To him, I am a super dork, especially when I make videos.

My kids have failed at pretty much everything at one point or another–from sports, to academics, to relationships, to keeping their rooms clean. They will keep failing, and they will keep being annoyed at my, “So what will you do now?” response. 

It’s a good thing that I am a failure too.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt 

Author’s Note:  This was posted with the full support of my contributing editors, my sons.

Loyalty: asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

Loyalty:  asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

A person can be loyal to a fault, don’t you think? For instance, someone who stays in an abusive relationship. Or someone who fails to change with a company only to work himself out of a job. Or a person who ignores an amazing opportunity to change her life for the better because of loyalty to her current employer.

Over the course of my life, I have often pondered the value of loyalty. Not only the value of loyalty in my own life but also the value of loyalty in general in the world today. Is loyalty an asset or a disadvantage in the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in?

Change is nothing new, our world has always been in a state of change. Tales of woe and disbelief about change are nothing new either. Oh dear, I wonder what poor Thomas Sheridan would think of the language we use to text or tweet?

The total neglect of this art [speaking] has been productive of the worst consequences..the wretched state of elocution is apparent to persons of any discernment and taste… if something is not done to stop this growing evil …English is  likely to become a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases.

-Thomas Sheridan, from the preface to the 1780 book A General Dictionary of the English Language

Thomas’ alarm at the state of the English language was a mere 237 years ago. Let’s go back even further to see what Socrates thought of the youth of 400 BC.

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.


Luxury in 400 BC? Ha! As we can see, change happens, always has and always will. Are we better off being loyal, or are we better off being fluid with our allegiances?

When pondering something, it’s fun to simplify questions by looking basic information, like definitions, synonyms, and antonyms of words. Here is a Merriam-Webster definition of the word loyal:  the quality or state of being true and constant support of someone or something. 

Looking at antonyms for the word loyal, I was dismayed to find only words like “disloyal” and “unfaithful”. Those words do not adequately sum up the opposite of “true and constant support”. Might words like flexibility or fluidity fit better as antonyms for loyal?

Loyalty certainly has value, especially with relationships. I am blessed to have loyal friends, some friendships dating back 30+ years. I am loyal to my family and we support each other through the ups and downs of our lives. I have been married for over 17 years and loyalty to my children goes without saying; we are each other’s biggest fans.

Loyalty to sports teams can bring great joy or great sorrow. Yet, we likely would not have the great joy without the great sorrow because victory is never so sweet as after repeated defeat. Just ask Cubs fans. This Lions fan is still waiting for the great joy, ever so patiently.

Loyalty to a career or to an employer is in a precarious state as our world is getting smaller and smaller and options are increasing by the millisecond. In a world where people change careers over and over as they pursue their passions, loyalty to a career that may not be the best fit could stall chances for tremendous success. Loyalty to a particular employer could do the same thing.

Going back to the examples of being loyal to a fault…someone who stays in an abusive relationship. Or someone who fails to change with a company only to work himself out of a job. Or a person who ignores an amazing opportunity to change her life for the better out of loyalty to her current employer. Are these examples of loyalty or are they examples of fear of change or perhaps of a lack of self-confidence?

I have the answer, finally, that I have been looking for all this time. It comes in the form of a new definition of loyalty:

Healthy loyalty is the quality or state of being true and constant support of someone or something that helps you be the person you want to be.

Healthy loyalty checklist:

  • Is the source of your loyalty a fear of change?
  • Is a lack of self-confidence driving your desire to remain loyal to where you are?
  • Use five words to describe the person you want to be.
  • Does the change help you become that person?
  • Does remaining loyal help you become that person?

Please share ideas you have about loyalty, healthy loyalty, and questions to ask yourself when determining the source of loyalty.

SOURCE for Thomas Sheridan quote

SOURCE for image






“We Are The Change That We Seek.” Barack Obama

“We Are The Change That We Seek.” Barack Obama

I remember a car conversation from many years ago. One of my boys was just five and experiencing some difficulties on the playground. After he lamented about how horribly he was being treated by some of his friends, I said this:

Buddy, this is going to be a little hard to hear, and it is something that many adults don’t even know. But, I know a secret to living a happy life. Do you think you are old enough to hear this secret?

He wanted in on the secret. Little did he know that this secret, although accurate and important, is something that people choose to deny, fight against, and even start wars over.

Okay, I think you are ready. Here it is. 

The only person you can control is YOU. 

This means that even if those boys are being very mean and what they are doing is wrong, you cannot change them. You can only change you.

So, if you’d like the situation to get better, what do you think you could do to help it?

He went on to share some ideas of things that he could do to change the boys. Maybe he could be very nice to them, and then they would change. Maybe he could tell a teacher. Maybe he could use kind words to ask the boys to stop what they were doing.

You could do those things, and maybe they would work. The important part of this message is that you cannot change others. Only they can decide to do that. You can only change yourself.

This is so hard to understand because there may be times when you are doing absolutely the right thing and someone else is doing absolutely the wrong thing, yet if you want the situation to change, you have to be the one to change. That doesn’t seem fair at all, but it is the way life works. If you wait for the world to change for you, you may wait forever.

Some people never understand this and spend their entire lives pretty unhappy as they wait for others to change.

If you’d like things to get better right away, how could you make a change that you have control over? What could you do?

He decided he could walk away, find other people to play with, and try not to get upset when his friends were not being kind. He knew that he could turn to an adult at school if things got bad, but the challenges he was facing were ones he would face for the rest of his life. I wanted him to get some practice resolving issues on his own, beginning at this young age.

I will never claim to be a parenting guru. I have had my share of parenting ups and downs, and I will continue to have them. This is one lesson, though, that is important for all children to have, and it is a lesson that is often missing from conversations with children.

Children deserve the opportunity to learn that there is so much within their control–their own actions, their own thinking, and through those two things they can control much of how they feel. Waiting for others to change is a battle they will not win, and they deserve to know that too.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.    -Barack Obama

Who Deserves to Know?

Who Deserves to Know?

“That teacher has always been difficult to work with. Everybody knows that.”

Ever heard something like this said about a colleague?

Ever wonder if anyone has told the teacher he is difficult to work with, and why?

Who deserves to know more than anyone else?

#Champion4Teachers in 50 Words or Less: Part One