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:
- They will have to overcome achievement gaps in schools, income gaps in society, and stereotypes about people of color.
- Getting them to college will require contending with the fact that in 2008 only 20% of Black adults ages 25 and older had a Bachelor’s degree (in comparison with 52% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 33% of White adults).
- In 2009 12% of post baccalaureate students were Black, 6% were Hispanic and 7% Asian/Pacific Islander and less than 1% were American Indian/Alaska Native.
- 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.
- 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.
How do you encourage resilience in your children?