Searching for GRIT
Have you heard about the marshmallow test?
Some years ago a study was conducted to survey impulse control with four-year-old children.
They placed the child in a room with one marshmallow and an adult. The adult tells the child he’s leaving the room to run a short errand. During that time the child is free to eat the marshmallow – but if he waits until the adult comes back, he can then eat not only that marshmallow but a second one as well.
They tracked those same children over the course of their schooling and came to a significant conclusion. Those children with the capacity for delayed gratification scored higher on SAT tests, had lower body mass indexes, and less problems with drugs.
It seems that one of the best things parents can do for their children is help them control their impulses.
Far too often those impulses are indulged or even affirmed.
We are facing a situation where many in our culture are unable to persevere through difficulty. The bullying conversation is important to have. Yet it turns many into helpless victims.
Teaching respect is of the highest importance. But so is teaching perseverance – the ability to power through and overcome obstacles.
Reminds me of another study noted in one of Malcom Gladwell’s books. He discovered that Japanese children were not better than American children at math or even more intelligent. Rather, they worked longer on each problem than their American counterparts, and thus had higher academic achievement. They had more perseverance, not more intelligence.
We need young people with some grit, some spine, some backbone. Across our culture our video –game, instant-gratification habit is most addictive and is leaving us with a generation that is unable to overcome obstacles. Our young people have so many options that if something does not come easy, then they just move on to something else.
Parents, just because you can, does not mean you should.
Just because you can mow the grass does not mean you should.
That boy needs to be behind the mower and not on the porch watching dad do the mowing and trimming. Those dishes in the sink need some little hands to find them and clean them.
Just because you can afford to buy something does not mean the child needs it. There is so much character to be developed as they earn the money, or build the trust, or go without for a while.
Too many children are being crippled by parents who are doing too much for them, or giving them too much. Dave Ramsey said, “I don’t want to just raise good kids. I want to raise kids who become good adults.”
In Jesus’ parable of the Sower and the Seed there were four kinds of soils. The seed in one particular kind of soil sprang up and then the heat of the sun wilted the plant. Too many young people grow up without stamina or grit and then wilt when life gets a little challenging. There are serious spiritual implications of this also.
We want young people to be raised with a faith that sustains them through the hardships of life.
We want to see Christians who have a persevering faith.
It is tragic when anyone walks away from the church. I have seen people leave for the shallowest of reasons. Persevere yourself. And teach your children to have some grit.