• The Gift of Failure

  • How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed
  • By: Jessica Lahey
  • Narrated by: Jessica Lahey
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (822 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Paul Tough's How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel's The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life's inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report-card disappointments, mastermind children's friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children's well-being, they aren't giving them the chance to experience failure - or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child's confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don't just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight - important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom.

Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children's failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children succeed.

©2015 Jessica Lahey (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great up until the end chapters...

I was really into the book up until the high school chapter. I couldn't get through it after that point. I tried but kept shaking my head. I have a 3 year old and a 7 year old and found the majority of this book extremely helpful and definitely self identified with a lot of the talking points and early chapters. By the high school chapter I felt it was a list of do's and don't to your child's future teachers. Discussing how mean parents are to teachers and how this could hurt your grown child (high school), I felt defensive and my children aren't even out of elementary school. So, overall great and helpful for small children. I was able to start giving my 7 year old and even 3 year old more structure and responsibility around the house. That is what I most connected with. I think this teacher/author has maybe heard too much complaining of other teachers or parents who complained to her directly. I fast forwarded through the college portion and just felt like it was just listing things not to do instead of connecting with the chapter. I won't be finishing the book but I feel like I got what I needed out of it.

9 people found this helpful

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Just Ok

The narrator is great and easy to listen to. My problem with this book is that while I do agree that there is a need for our kids to fail, I also think that this style described in this book got a little extreme for me. I couldn’t finish it.

8 people found this helpful

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Misguided Advice

The Gift of Failure is based on anecdotes and interviews of like-minded individuals with a narrow view of the available information.

I found the author's advice to be overly simplistic and one-dimensional. Her theories don't seem to provide for a balanced approach to teaching children discipline and self responsibility. It's kind of an all or none approach, which from my experience is ineffective.

There are a few nuggets that can be taken from this book; however, unfortunately, it is based on bad theory.

If you decide to read this book, do so with a skeptical attitude; otherwise, your children will pay the price of Ms. Lahey's misguided advice.



7 people found this helpful

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A guidepost for parents and teachers

As a parent of three children and as a second grade teacher, I found this book was speaking to me. Every word echoed my own experiences as a parent. We have begun implementing many of these ideas at home and I have seen my 13 year old take some risks she would have avoided prior. I have also out some practices into practice in my classroom and I am seeing happier kids with more persistence and resilience. This is a book I recommend to all the parents in my classroom. If I could make it required reading, I would! Thank you Jessica!

5 people found this helpful

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Amazing Tool

oh my goodness!
I learned SO MUCH from this book. I wasn't even close to finishing it, when I shared it with my Facebook friends. If we just stop rescuing our kids from failing, we might just have amazing leaders for the future.
There is a bowl in my sink right now that my 8 yr old needs to wash and put back into his spot (bc each kid has 1 plate, 1 bowl, 1cup, spoon, fork, knife & place mat). I am fighting the urge to 'remind' him to take care of it. I hope it is a natural lesson for himself when we all have ice cream, and he sees what needs to happen.

4 people found this helpful

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I learned so much more than I expected!

Thank you for this book. It has turned my down-in-the-dumps 5 year old into an autonomy directed, self sufficient, hard working, thoughtful boy. It has also freed me from so much unnecessary worry and allowed me to give the successes and failures of my children back to THEM, their rightful owner!

4 people found this helpful

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very educational

as a parent this book is a breath of fresh air. I have a 9 month old but am already dreading the intricacies of school and how to best handle it. this book provided an amazing view from a teacher's perspective and how the over parenting for which I'm prone could be detrimental at best to my child's development and general feeling of self worth. thank you Ms. Lahey.

4 people found this helpful

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Good common sense and helpful hints

Really enjoyed listening to this book. Thought there were useful examples of how to implement the strategies discussed. Nice balance of studies and real life examples. Thanks for giving us a place to turn when it all gets to be a little too much.

3 people found this helpful

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Offers real solutions to help overstressed kids.

I loved listening to this book. The author narrates the book and she's engaging. The topic is very timely as my 5th grade son is enrolled in a competitive and academically focused school. I've been giving him more responsibilities and have eased off of directing his school work. He's responded by stepping up! He's happier, more confident, and knows stumbles will happen, but that he will recover. So many parents at my school need this book. They ground their fourth graders for B's and harass the teachers. I'll be recommending this book to everyone I know.

3 people found this helpful

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Not much new here -- couldn't finish it

There are far better books on this topic elsewhere (I recommend The Self Driven Child). If this is the first time you've ever heard of growth mindset and the dangers of helicopter parenting, then maybe you will get something out of it. But like I said, these topics are covered in a more in-depth, well-researched way than in The Gift of Failure.

First of all, this book is written for a very narrow subset of the population -- well-off, hard-driving, and anxiety-ridden professionals. I couldn't relate to trying to get my 3-yr-old into the most competitive preschool in the hopes that it would land her at Harvard. Second, so much of this book (that I managed to listen to) is the author's own personal experience. Again, this same idea has been written about more comprehensively in other books. So it wasn't worth my credit.

1 person found this helpful