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Pam Spano reviews a book designed to help parents learn to step aside so their teens can take the lead in living out the faith.

Failing Forward: Leadership Lessons for Catholic Teens Today by Alan Migliorato and Darryl Dziedzic is a book on how to raise teenagers to become leaders in the Catholic faith. By “failing forward,” teens (and the parents who allow them to fail) learn that “failure is just a door to success.” 

Failing Forward

The book teaches parents how to step aside and let their teens learn how to succeed by failing using the COPEC Formation Leadership Training Method. COPEC stands for Challenge, Observe, Process, Evaluate, and Challenge Again.

How many times have you told your teen to do something but were unsatisfied with the way they handled the task? Did you step in and do it yourself? Did you criticize the way they did it? Were you afraid they would fail so you hovered over them and walked them through each step hoping to insure success? Sound familiar?

This book teaches the parent to assign a challenge, observe how it’s being carried out, talk about how that challenge went (process) and then evaluate the results. The key here is to let the teen carry out the stages without the parent meddling in the process. This gives the teen an opportunity to offer his/her own insights into their own actions. Did they succeed? If they didn’t, why? Would they do things differently? The Challenge Again part of COPEC gives the teen the opportunity to try again.

The parent learns to observe, listen, allow the teen to process the experience and then finally to speak the truth to that teen about what went right or wrong with love.

“Where is God in all of this?” is one of the sections in the chapters of this book. One of the tie-ins to Scripture is the shepherd watching his flock:

This is how God shepherds us. He allows us to make our own decisions and write our own destines, no matter what that might be. He allows us to be in charge of ourselves, to have free will. He doesn’t interfere in our daily decisions; instead, He allows us to - we hope - learn from our experiences. He doesn’t hover over us as a lot of parents do with their teens; He lets us live our lives.


I found this book to be eye-opening, filled with common sense and practical advice. Our children are adults, but I still think I can use these techniques with them.

This book teaches parents how to step aside and let their teens learn how to succeed by failing. #catholicmom

You can purchase Failing Forward from the publisher, Sophia Institute Press, or through my affiliate link on Amazon. 

Copyright 2021 Pam Spano
This article contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchases through these links benefit the author.