A Lesson Learned: Failing Gracefully

In an effort to remain as genuine as possible, I’m starting a series called “A Lesson Learned.” No, this won’t be the place where I share the best lesson one of my children learned this week. This “lesson” is not directed towards them, it is a lesson I learned.

I thought I had a bright idea for teaching colors by reusing some baby food jars. I couldn’t wait for Big Brother to help me! I put some water and blue food coloring in the jar, and he shook it up. Then I mixed some oil and yellow food coloring and mixed that as well. I poured the oil in the jar and this is what we got:

Pretty good, huh? Blue and yellow.

The point was to then shake it up and make green.

Again, this was a success! Yay!

So, I tried it with red and blue…it looked good at first.

But then after I shook it up more, it didn’t look so good. And neither did the blue & yellow jar. They just kinda looked like blobs of the color that they were supposed to be mixed, but never actually went back to the original colors. Needless to say, it didn’t go as I had planned…at all. :)
Before I beat myself up for failing…I must first reevaluate the way I might respond if this was one of my children who failed. I would encourage them by saying things like, “That was a great idea!” and “You really worked hard!” Failure isn’t really treated as failure with our children…it is the effort that counts, right?
You see, I feel that it is important for our children to see us fail. They need to know that it is okay…and in fact, some of the greatest lessons learned come through failure (but boy, is that a hard pill to swallow!). Believe me when I tell you that our boys (and my husband) get a daily dose of seeing Mommy fail around our house.

Now of course this is just an example of failure on a very small, insignificant way in the whole scheme of things. But it provides an opportunity for me to tell my children that, “Mommy thought it would work, but it didn’t. That’s okay…sometimes that just happens.”

Through failure, we (and our children) learn perseverance.

And of course perfection will never be attained, “We all fall short” (Romans 3:23). We might as well get used to it and learn to deal with it gracefully!

So, that’s my lesson learned and something I will be always constantly striving for…to fail gracefully.

How about you? What was one of your “lessons learned” this week?


  1. That's sad. It was such a great idea; I would have thought it would have worked. It's a nice lesson learned, though. The best way to teach them how to deal with failure is by example.

  2. Just FYI, if the colors were both water-based, when you shake the water and oil together the water-based colors would separate from the oil and combine with each other. So it's a good lesson for the first run, but once you've made the emulsion, it's mixed for good. A good trick might be to color two dishes of water and use a dropper to drop them into the oil and watch them fall and combine in the bottom since the oil will sit on top.

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