Untigering is About Failing Forward

There’s nothing like the end of the year to cause one to look back and take stock of the past twelve months.

As I reflect on my quest to untiger and become a gentler parent, one would expect that I’ve made significant progress, right?

Well…not quite.

Every day, I’m reminded that I still have a long way to go.

Just look at the cards that our boys gave us for Christmas.

This is what KK wrote to Jay:

This is what I got:

Notice the difference in placement of the exclamation marks.

Notice the color and whimsy of one card and the utilitarian blandness of the other.

Notice how one note is effusive in praise and the other seems to highlight flaws.

Perhaps, I’m reading into things, but it seems glaringly obvious that KK thinks my husband is a better parent.

Maybe Jay should be the one writing this blog.

* * *

Unfortunately, I really can’t fault KK.

I AM snappy.

A lot.

Especially during piano practice.  Wrong notes and off beats somehow awaken my primal tiger instinct.


“How can I blog about gentle parenting when I’m failing at it so miserably?”

Then I am reminded about why I started this blog in the first place—

not to have an elite club for perfect parents, but to have a support group for parents trying to detox from the easy high of authoritarianism;

not to be a hero paving the way, but to be a companion running alongside.

Untigering is not about perfection. It’s about process.

It’s not a fixed state of being. It’s growth.

It doesn’t always look like success.

Sometimes it looks like failing forward.

“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”  – John C. Maxwell

I’m no hero. I have no delusions of winning this untigering marathon.

But I can be your running buddy.

I can keep cheering you on when you feel like giving up. And you can do the same for me.

In the coming year, we will inevitably fail and fall flat on our faces.

But let’s fail forward.


I’ve launched an Untigering Parents Facebook group so that we can better support each other in this process of untigering! Click on the link below to join!




  1. Cindy K

    December 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Love you, and your blog Iris! I will run with you!! In this year, I’ve made significant strides in being a less tiger-y parent; but have also had many moments of “failing forward”. One revelation I had was that my temper seems to flare more when C makes a repeated error that I’ve corrected/talked about many times before; or when the circumstances causes shame to me as a parent, for instance, not saying hi to an adult when greeted, etc… I practice being mindful during those times that love has no limits, and he is his own person — and not an extension of me. Ultimately, I want him to feel allowed and empowered to feel his own feelings, and have his own opinions; something that I don’t think I had permission to do growing up.

    1. Iris

      December 31, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Cindy, thanks for reading! I feel the same way: significant strides, but still a long way to go. Sometimes I feel so upset over the smallest thing and I have to realize that it’s not really about my kids, but about my triggers. Mindfulness is key! Thanks for running with me!

  2. Elanor

    January 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I just found your blog Iris! Best thing I’ve read about parenting in a long time. I love your parenting paradoxes. The buffet, there’s no such thing as misbehavior. I totally feel all the fear of the risks I’m taking when I try to live this way. But I also totally feel that this is the way of faith! That God is parenting my kids too, so I don’t have to be the one in control. Keep up the writing. Thinking a lot about school these days myself, so I can’t wait to hear more about your unschooling experiments!!

    1. Iris

      January 9, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Welcome, Elanor! Thanks for reading! I totally agree that gentle parenting is about faith and trust. Our control is so often about fear. Check out the Untigering Parents FB group if you’d like to chat with more like-minded parents!

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