If you are a parent, you probably know about “grit.” Grit is the ability to keep going when things get tough. Studies have shown that grit is a huge factor to succeeding in life. Grit has replaced self-esteem as the primary desirable character trait. Having self-esteem is good, but it has to be earned. We’re not building self-esteem correctly when we hand out trophies to every kid who participates in an event. This kind of coddling builds inflated egos and a lot of young adults who can’t handle real adversity. Let’s face it, life isn’t fair. The sooner the kids learn this, the sooner they will be able to adapt and figure out how to overcome challenges.
Of course, small kids have no grit at all. RB40Jr is 5 years old and he breaks down in tears pretty often. He is still young, but he is also growing up so fast. We’ll help him develop his resiliency as he gets older by giving him different challenges and responsibilities. Also, we need to avoid being helicopter parents and let him overcome his own obstacles. The problem is that kids from stable families usually don’t have a lot of opportunities to develop resilience. Well-to-do parents tend to make life too easy for the kids and in turn, they don’t develop any grit. Just today, I overheard a young college student bragging to her friends about going to class just once a week even though she is scheduled for a full load. I would blow my top if I ever heard RB40Jr say that. Man, what a waste of time and opportunity, not to mention the cost of tuition. If I was that young student’s parent, I’d cash out her 529 account and splurge on a trip around the world.
Life has been quite good since I retired in 2012. In fact, it has been so cushy that I am losing my own grit. I just retook the grit test (link at the bottom) and got 3.25. This is a steep drop from 4.13 when I took the test 3 years ago. There just haven’t been any big challenges and I’m happy with a comfortable life now. Crisis is unavoidable, though. There will be some big challenges in the future and hopefully, I will retain enough grit to overcome them. I suppose my grit level will build back up when I face some serious challenges.
Mrs. RB40’s score is 3.5, up from 2.88 the last time she took the grit test. She has been facing more challenges at work and she has to be tougher because she’s the primary bread winner now.
That’s the problem with living a comfortable life. It’s good now, but you might not be able to handle future hardship. Kids who grew up in a difficult environment can handle adversity much better than kids who had everything handed to them. That’s why parents need to resist the urge to swoop in and solve the kids’ problems for them. Parents are depriving the kids of valuable learning opportunities. We all need to fail sometime and learn from our mistakes. I guess both Jr. and I need some challenging goals to keep life interesting.
Do you think a comfortable life makes you soft?
Take the grit test. This will only take a few minutes.
Book Reading List:
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
- How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcom Gladwell
- How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims
- Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler
- GRIT: The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed by Paul G. Stoltz
Image by Peter Mooney