When I was a kid playing outdoors in the 50’s & early 60’s none of our parents knew where we were or what we were up to. I laughed out loud, watching an early episode of Mad Men when Don Draper’s daughter was spinning around with a plastic bag on her head and her mom simply told her to go outdoors, because that was so accurately depicted. There was a wild freedom to being a kid back then & there were tons of mistakes.

I’m not advocating a return to the benign neglect of parenting in the early 60’s, I am saying there is something missing now. We have over scheduled instead of spontaneity, soccer practices instead of family meals and safety is such a high priority that there is no room for mistakes.learn from mistakes, make mistakes, life mistakes, mistakes made, mistakes that, the mistake, make a mistake

Mistakes matter. Both 5th grade science fairs I attended, it was clear to me which projects had been done by parents. I appreciate the crooked lines, misspelled words and lumpy volcanos that are clear evidence that children were part of the deal. Think back and you will remember that you always learned more from your mistakes than success.

I’ve never forgotten back in the 80’s, when one of my teachers, Laura Perls said “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

I find perfectionism tragic, it robs people of their opportunities for mistakes. Mistakes are about being vulnerable. Vulnerability seems to be a rare commodity in today’s culture. Technology makes it easier to not be vulnerable so someone texts “I love you” instead of saying it face to face.

Mistakes help kids practice rejection instead of parents helping them to escape it. Everyone needs practice with the hard parts of life. When I get kids in the office, who are upset about their parents divorce I tell them they’ll get a lot of practice & learn a lot about coping with difficulty.

Self-esteem builds on your accomplishments, not a bunch of gooey compliments that happen daily. Accomplishments require the process of encountering mistakes. Survival from mistakes helps you to find your own voice instead of becoming a people pleaser.

Too many young adults are afraid of life & making hard choices. They drift, “safe” in their parents homes and not defining themselves. They artfully avoid all risks & mistakes which is such a waste of precious time on this planet.

Mistakes are crucial to living life well.


About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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