I have talked with Heather and also with one of the other guys in the bishopric several times about how parents are terrified of letting children fail. The discussion with 2 points made in my mind: 1) We don't let our kids make mistakes/fail enough. 2) When they do fail, we don't let our kids see/feel the consequences of the mistakes/failure.
Parents have a hard time letting their kids do things for fear they might get hurt, or they might not be successful at it, or somebody might kidnap them, or they might be around bad influences, or they might dump the whole gallon of milk on the floor instead of some into the bowl (not that this has _ever_ happened at my house), etc.
Today I saw an article that made me think about this a little more. Some lady left her 9 year old in New York City to get home by himself (on purpose).
With Heather the discussion leads to a parenting strategy called "Love and Logic". We took a class on it, and it makes a lot of sense. I just need to use it more. One of the examples they give is: let your kids mess up by buying the $10 junky toy car at the museum, then learn the hard way that quality matters when it breaks 20 minutes later. The other option is having them spend $5,000 for a piece of junk car when they are 19 and learn the _really_ hard way that quality matters.
With the guy in the bishopric, it leads to the end results. We talk about kids that have been shielded from the consequences of their choices a lot in their lives. Their parents bail them out every time there is a consequence. We talk about the lack of responsibility in these kids' lives, and how effects it is going to have on them long term. My favorite story about this is one I heard about a guy who missed work 1 too many times. The company attendance policy dictated that he face disciplinary action for missing work too many times. His mom called work to tell them that he was sick and it should be an excused absence. She fully expected to take the consequences away. She expected him to get off the hook because it always worked in High School. The funny part is, the guy was 30 (or something like that), and didn't even live at home.
I think it is a fine line to draw, but one I see myself erring too far on the side of caution. I am going to try to do more to empower my kids and let them learn from mistakes. We need to let kids make mistakes and fail on the little things so when the big things come up, they have already learned the hard way. My parents did an awesome job of this. I am not sure I did a great job at learning the lessons, but they let me make the mistakes and were there to help me when I needed it.