In fifth grade I stopped raising my hand.
It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention in class, I was. It’s not that I didn’t know the answer, I did. It’s not that I didn’t like talking…says the girl who has a stack of report cards which state, “talks too much in class.” I stopped raising my hand in fifth grade because I started to become aware of risks. Growing social awareness and the idea that my actions had the potential to produce weird looks or eye rolling from my peers kept me quiet.
And Fifth-Grade-Me came to the conclusion that low expectations and minimal participation was the road to a blissful existence. But that’s not how we are designed to live, and if you have a daughter, you know that helping your daughter grow into the woman God created her to be will inevitably produce weird looks and eye rolling from peers.
In 2013, psychologist and author, Angela Lee Duckworth flung the idea of grit out to the masses with her wildly popular TED Talk. In the talk, she shared one thing successful people have in common: grit. Grit is the combination of persistence and resilience. While I don’t want to raise my daughters to be motivated by achievements; I do want to raise them to point people to Jesus. And pointing people to Jesus doesn’t come from low expectations and minimal participation, and it certainly doesn’t come without understanding peristence and resilience.
So how do we cultivate grit? How do we promote courage? How do we encourage our girls to keep their heads high and their hands up? Here’s how.
1.) INTRODUCE YOUR GIRL TO BOLD WOMEN FROM THE BIBLE
Esther risked her life for her people. Hannah prayed constantly. Miriam saved her brother. Mary, the mother of Jesus surrendered her life. Bold, brave, and devoted, the accounts of these women never get old.
Read them, share them, read them again.
2.) ENCOURAGE HER TO DO HARD THINGS BY ALLOWING HER TO WATCH YOU DO HARD THINGS
Before I could spell, I wanted to write. Saying you want to be a writer when you are nine is admirable. Saying you want to be a writer when you are twenty-three is irresponsible. It took me almost thirty years, two kids, and a slew of jobs to decide I didn’t want to be practical and that sure things usually leave us wanting. It’s easy to talk about raising brave girls; it’s harder to be an example of a woman with grit. Nudge, nudge.
3.) LET HER FAIL
Raise your hand if you ever learned a really important life lesson from easy success. Me either. It makes sense to gather your family and shield them from life’s hurts and struggles. Resist the urge.
4.) INTRODUCE YOUR GIRL TO BOLD WOMEN FROM HISTORY
The first time I read about Nellie Bly, I was fourteen and I thought she was fictional. In the late 1800’s, Nellie, a journalist, spent time undercover researching sweatshops. She exposed the poor treatment of people with mental illness by pretending to be a patient in an asylum for ten days. Bly worked for better treatment of people in prison. She wrote about corruption, and she took on the challenge to travel the world in eighty days.
Bly showed fierce strength, stamina, and determination, and even better, she did so with a pen. Bly wasn’t a made-up character from a dusty novel. She was an actual woman from history.
Seeing someone be brave (even through the pages of books) inspires grit.
4.) TEACH HER TO RELY ON GOD (AND NOT HERSELF) FOR STRENGTH
Raising girls with guts and grit isn’t teaching girls to be self-reliant. It’s teaching girls to find strength in their relationship with God.
Your turn: How do you encourage grit and courage in your house? How do you balance teaching your kids to be brave while teaching them to be safe? Where are you feeling the nudge to live courageously?