Why Failing is a Gift
Writer / Janelle Morrison
The timing of Lahey’s appearance is no coincidence. Her invitation to speak comes as the Zionsville Community Schools human capital campaign, “Strong in Every Way” was launched last November, and related programs are being implemented in 2017.
Lahey is an English and writing teacher, correspondent for the Atlantic, commentator for Vermont Public Radio, and writes the “Parent-Teacher Conference” column for the New York Times. She earned a B.A. in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts and a J.D. with a concentration in juvenile and education law from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two sons.
The Gift of Failure coincides with the three primary objectives of Strong in Every Way; developing webs of support, developing assets and resources, and developing cultural understandings. Lahey drills down into the factors that attribute to adolescent anxiety and depression that can lead to drug and alcohol addiction and or youth suicide.
“I work as a teacher at an adolescent rehabilitation center and work with drug and alcohol addicted youth,” Lahey said. “I have been talking about these issues more at speaking engagements in northern California where they are experiencing clusters of teen suicides. If we are specifically talking about the addictions and suicides, we are only discussing one half of the coin. The other half is about the pressure that the kids feel of being in a community where it is expected that they will do better than their parents and or will go on to a respectable college.”
Lahey continued: “The fact that there is a lot of pressure on kids to be involved in multiple activities and good at everything they are involved in is causing anxiety and creating a mindset that if they don’t make it look effortless and perfect all of the time than they are not really smart and that is really stressful for kids.” She says this tends to happen more frequently in communities with high standards, such as getting into an Ivy League or top- ranked college while performing in the orchestra or playing for the travel soccer league.
These standards have created “a new base line,” she says, “and is…how some parents measure their own parenting. If you read the chapter in my book, ‘The History of American Parenting,’ I discuss how we got here and why we, generally speaking, go crazy about needing that external validation of our own parenting.”
Lahey will also speak at ZPAC in March on how parents are their children’s number one advocate and that it is their job as parents to protect their children’s individual talents and skills, especially the ones that are not easily measurable.
“We’ve completely lost sight of what is reasonable while in pursuit of raising perfect children and that is simply not what parenting is about. It is about supporting what is special and unique about our children and being their advocate until they develop self – advocacy themselves.”
You can read reviews and purchase The Gift of Failure at www.jessicalahey.com. Tickets for Lahey’s presentation are available at www.zvilleperformingarts.org.
Zionsville Performing Arts Center ZPAC Presents Jessica Lahey March 14, 2017 at 6p