Resilience Grit parenting school

Parenting Grrrrr…Grit!

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy, School Me on Research

Parenting Grrrrr…Grit!

Haven’t we all judged another parents parenting?  I used to break out in a slow, evolving sweat if I had to walk through a store/event with a screeching, crying child, following at my side with zombie-like steps.  Now I walk head up, completely oblivious to the judging spectators and the neon-flashing meltdown happening next to me.
But, I did give pause a few weeks ago to a spectator’s parental judgment. I was standing on the periphery of the playground, watching the youngest go from playing with other kids, to slides, swings and plastic rocking horses. I was also keeping an eye on my six year old son as he made his umpteenth attempt at the monkey bars.
“You can do it Jack!”  I yelled out.
Still he struggled and strained to reach the fourth rung.  His grip began to slip. It became clear he was not going to make it.
“Drop and start over!” I yelled from the side again.
Don’t allow him to quit.” A White, male, stranger, I’d never laid eyes upon, shoved his advice in my direction.
“Is he talking to me?” was my immediate thought.  I made two swift turns of my head, one to the left and then to the right. Surely he couldn’t be. But low and behold he was.  I had a mouth-full ready for him. But, I opted for a sharp side-eye instead. Which hopefully indicated a serious, “Excuse me?”
I am sure the stranger thought he was being helpful.  But, did I look as if I needed his help?  Did he assume that our family didn’t model, discuss or impart the value of resilience?  There is no question our family is well aware that all three of our children of color will need more than intelligence and social skills in order to have a chance at success. We are well aware that:
I am not saying that there isn't some truth to the stranger’s implication to encourage my son to not ‘give up’ or in other words be resilient. A study released by the US Department of Education detailed that grit, the ability to persevere to accomplish long or short-term goals in the face of challenges, is necessary for success in the 21st century.  Furthermore, a recent study of Black males, who attended predominantly White universities, found that the one factor which determined their college success was their ability to exercise grit in the face of obstacles or challenges. The value of encouraging resilient responses is not lost on our family by any means.  But, we also believe that:
  • Grit or resilience is a result of ‘practicing’ how to respond to adversity or challenges.
  • The ability and habit of responding resiliently is based on more than offering “don’t quit” rhetoric in challenging times.
As according to a Minnesota study support and nurturing from at least one person, particularly in the first years of life, rank as primary factors which contribute to one’s ability to respond resiliently to adversity.
For my husband and I this means understanding that our children’s resilient responses are not only dependent upon telling them “they must not give up”.  Teaching our children to respond resiliently also includes for us:
  • Providing guidance, advice and opportunities to develop self-esteem and efficacy through adversity.
  • Making them aware that no success is solely the result of individual accomplishments.
  • Letting our children know that for most people, most things attempted for the first time(s), usually end in a big, sloppy, falling down, uneven, ‘is it supposed to look like this?’ mess.
I don’t know the motives behind the stranger’s unsolicited advice. His comment seemed to insinuate he underestimated my parenting skills.  Nonetheless, regardless of what he thought I am resigned to the fact that our parenting on resilience consists of knowing that sometimes our children will need encouragement and insistence on making it to the next rung or support if/when they need to start all over again.


How do you encourage resilience in your children?



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