In the fourth month of my son’s mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was in a courtyard of a building in Mexico City, teaching a lesson to a small group of people. He was sweating profusely because of the heat , and struggling with his Spanish. He felt so inadequate, but somehow plowed through the heat, the flies, and his faulty Spanish, to give the message he was sent there to give.
A dog started barking on a balcony above, and Cameron suddenly realized that the dog’s saliva was landing on him. It distracted him, and he couldn’t recover his thought process in Spanish quickly enough to proceed through the lesson. Luckily, his more experienced companion jumped in and was able to finish for him.
On our weekly call, later, we laughed about the whole experience as Cameron went through every excruciating detail. That was a pattern in our family, to do a hard thing, and live to tell the tell. My children knew I relished the details, and we would chew on them thoroughly for them to realize, “I can do hard things!”
That above experience in Mexico became a funny antidote, instead of a “I- am-throwing-in-the-towel-because-this-is-too-hard,” because we worked on developing grit. This son had to take the bus to his job when he lost his car privileges, and take multiple truckloads to the stinky, slimy city dump while we were restoring a trashy house we had bought for a steal because it was so badly taken care of. He also sold bread he made for 4 years to earn money for his mission, among other things.
His great-great grandparents would probably tsk, tsk me for letting him off so easy, but we tried, within our prosperous, American life, for him to do hard things.
One of the arts of being a Deep River Parent is to teach our children to work. Which embeds grit. All around us people are saying, “No, it’s too hard, it’s too much energy and time. I am too busy with unessential pursuits!”
Help your child to succeed in life by encouraging hard experiences where they get dirty and frustrated. Do a family project that takes all day and everyone is thoroughly sick and tired of it. You will see the harvests of these “hard things” seeds you are planting every day, and then you get to reinforce and validate them for their efforts, one mucky, hot and frustrating experience at a time.