Train the kids to handle failure? Let them be raised by the Dad

A few weeks back, I attended a parenting talk by David Seah, Family Life Educator and Counsellor, engaged by my kids’ school for parents. The topic was on IQ, EQ and AQ. I really took away some very interesting points that made me think hard about our parenting style at home. He said,”If you want your kids to have adversity quotient (the ability to deal with failures), let them be raised by the father.”

Before you go all out to protest against this seemingly racist statement like how we mothers felt at the talk initially, you must give a chance for the humorous speaker to make his stand.

1) Mothers are protective by nature

Have you seen mothers throw up babies in the air for fun? Usually the image of fathers doing it will surface when you think of it. In fact, we mothers are good in churning out academics due to the fact that we are competitive by nature. Think of how we react to exam results vs the fathers. Once the child comes back with less than 100 marks, mothers’ first reaction is probably to furiously flip through the pages and scrutinize those questions with marks deductions and then do a fast calculation and conclude that without such CARELESS MISTAKES, the child could have gotten so and so marks. So well-observed and that’s ahem saying about me too…

When our child runs or cycles or moves at fast speed, or any actions that risk falling on the pavement, we are the ones who shouted instructions from behind like “Watch out for the pillar!”, “Beware of that little dog’s tail in front!” Fathers are rarely the ones who shouted warnings or maybe they do, under their breath. But you get it, the Fathers are usually the cool ones. They are less inclined to fret over small injuries. Similarly, kids’ cry harder when they see Mothers rushing to their aid than when they see Fathers strolling towards them.

2) Fathers are natural risk-takers

Get Dad to be involved more if you wish to instill some toughness and the ability to handle adversity in your child.

I guess this is hard for mothers like me to teach adversity toughness. When I saw how my son at the age of 1.5yo, my hubby allowed him to walk up and down the overhead bridge by himself with him being an arm’s length away, I almost freaked out but decided to cross my finger and watched in fear. I trust my hubby to be taking controlled and supervised risk but I definitely would not risk it myself. I am often been chastised for doing too much for the kids. Hence, I certainly agree that with the Dad around, my sons will be brought up braver and the Dad will balance out too much of my fussing and ‘mothering’.

I remembered when my girl was 8, she was kind of being bullied and betrayed by a friend whom she treated like a sister. My heart cried and ached so much but I managed to hide my emotions and counselled her to think for herself if such friendship was worth treasuring. That was perhaps the best time I taught my kid to handle adversity on her own even though I had a bigger part of me that urged me to get involved.

What kind of parents are we?

David, the counsellor, shared on a few more important messages that were worth pondering.


Neglectful parenting is borne out of high achieving parents who spend a great deal of time outside the home. These parents also tend to compensate the kids with material things. As a result, this kind of parenting is termed the LOW DISCIPLINE and LOW LOVE type. Why low discipline? Because they hardly spend time with the children and leave much of the discipline and education to helpers, care-givers and teachers. Why low love? Because they could not spend enough time to nurture the love and the kids may not feel their parents’ love. I feel that this has to be in check every now and then as even if it doesn’t apply to us right now, it may unknowingly seep into our families if work takes up too much of our time.


The best kind of parenting will be the Authoritative parenting where there is High Love and High Discipline. I always believe when one has a firm discipline coupled with lots of love for our children, they will turn out fine naturally. This will also have an impact on how resilient our child will grow up to be.

Too much love with less discipline is most likely going to turn the kids into spoilt kids who take things for granted. Too much discipline with low love is going to make the kids resentful towards the family even though the parents have the best interest for them which the kids would never know.

What kind of parenting style is yours?

Accepting our child’s non-academic abilities and talents

Powerpoint Slide by David Seah

Powerpoint Slide by David Seah

David was very humorous when he touched on all the multiple intelligence that each of our kids may fall into. Basically, in a nutshell, if given a choice, all parents will choose Logical and Linguistic intelligence for their own children. All parents want their kids to be high achievers because that, to the society, is equivalent to SUCCESS in life. Is that so?

Well, no parents will choose Bodily Intelligence as we find active children, who need to be on the move constantly or don lots of energy, difficult to handle. After all, how many Fandi Ahmads will we ever churn out in our society?

Not many will choose Musical Intelligence which Stephanie Sun and JJ Lin are only talents we see on media and unthinkable for our own children.

Academic is not everything and I must agree with David that, as long as our children are brought up filial to parents and elders, and have a caring heart, kind and sensible, let’s just give our children room to develop their own talents in their own ways which may or may not be geared towards academic excellence. Being an ace student without the EQ (ability to emphathize and interact with others) or AQ (ability to handle adversity), life is not so much happier or considered a success with just IQ alone.

Lastly, allowing kids to fail and not cushion them too much that they cannot handle failure on their own is important in parenting. Most of life requires failure before success comes. Failure is not fatal unless you give up. How very very true!!!

3 thoughts on “Train the kids to handle failure? Let them be raised by the Dad

  1. I agree that we can raise resilient children with a bit of tough love. In my family, I’m the risk taker while my husband can spot potential danger zones from miles away. I guess that’s how we balance each other out. If I can choose, I think ‘interpersonal intelligence’ is the most important one to possess. Because no matter how smart you are logically and linguistically, you can get/sell your ideas across to others if you can’t communicate effectively.

  2. A very interesting article. Ours is the typical family. Chubby is the one who does all the “dangerous” things with them. While Mummy is the one who read books or do homework with them. Sometimes I wish this can swap, but I have to admit, I do not have the courage to throw my kids the way Chubby did. LOL.

    Thanks for sharing. Teaching kids about adversity is certainly something I’m looking at currently.

  3. Haha, just talked about the very theme with a friend who was horrified to let her husband take their child to the playground. But I think it has been good that my husband let’s them figure out physical stuff but is there also to teach them how to do it safely. I try not to say what I think “please, don’t”… I do agree with you and David’s conclusion about academics not being it all.

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