Failure analysis

I recently received in the mail an unsolicited copy of "Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps For More Joyful Kids And Happier Parents" by Christine Carter, Ph.D. The accompanying form letter was addressed "Dear Blogger." Such letters tucked inside of complimentary copies of books are a subtle request for a review. Which is okay ... but this is not a review.

I will eventually review Ms. Carter's book -- or at least use it for blog fodder and mention it kindly. But I've not yet been able to focus on the book innards because I've been entranced by one of the quotes on the book jacket and can't seem to move my mind and heart forward. Which is weird. And something I can't really explain. So I'm spewing forth here in hopes of expunging whatever it is that has me so emotionally invested in a silly book jacket quote.

Thing is, it's not so silly. Here's the quote, or at least the part that caught my attention: "The learning curve for all parents is in failure analysis -- where and how we went off course -- and how we can do better the next go-round." This said by Michael Riera, Ph.D. and author of "Field Guide to the American Teenager" and "Right from Wrong."

I never knew there was a technical term for figuring out how we screwed up, at least a term used for our parenting screw-ups. But "failure analysis" it must be; I guess I just failed to read the right books that would have provided me that term earlier in the parenting process. Yet I'm having a rough time wrapping my head around that term. It's so cold, so technical, so corporate and so much feels like a term used to describe a failed rocket launching in which everyone aboard perished.

I have to admit that it scares me to look back on my parenting and analyze where I failed. Overall I'm a success -- my girls are grown, living on their own, paying their own bills, and semi-sorta-kinda succeeding in their relationships -- but I know I've failed in many, many ways. I never deluded myself into thinking otherwise. In fact, I've felt like a failure more often than a success. But isn't that how all parents feel: like they certainly could have done better? We give it our all but are pretty darn sure that somewhere, somehow we could have done just a little bit more, been at least a smidgen better.

So I don't know ... I'm hesitant to crack the cover of "Raising Happiness" because it'll likely point out all the ways I really, truly failed to raise happy girls. And it just might be in the areas in which I thought I did okay.

I guess it comes down to this: I'm not ready to perform failure analysis on my parenting skills. My little ones so recently flew the nest that I think I need to take a bit of a break before dissecting and analyzing.

Especially because, despite the second half of that quote, the part about "how we can do better the next go-round," there is no next go-round. I don't get another chance. What's done is done and I definitely will not be throwing out my first set of kids as if they were the cussed up first waffles that didn't form correctly and now I can cook up a batch that comes out better.

Or is that what grandchildren are supposed to be? The second batch?

I guess I should start reading "Raising Happiness" sooner rather than later, just in case. Because Bubby just may be my "next go-round."

And I sure don't want to dread the failure analysis with my grandchildren to the degree that I am with my kids.

*Stay tuned for an eventual review of "Raising Happiness" by Christine Carter.

Today's question:

Forget the "failure analysis," what's one really good/successful thing you've done in your life?

My answer: I've remained an optimist.