teaching perseverance

Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits. ~Robert Brault

I am nothing if not perseverant. What I don’t have a natural talent for, I make up for in spades with my stubborn ability to not give up. I’m certainly not good at everything I do – quite the opposite actually. I do a lot of things (a lot) and any success I achieve is largely due to me not being willing to quit.

Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~Japanese Proverb

I will push myself through darn near anything to accomplish a goal. That goal may be the neverending laundry that needs to be folded. Or it may be training to run a half-marathon. Either way – I’m not out there crying about it being too hard. I’m out there pushing myself to do what needs to be done.

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich

And yet, somehow I’ve given birth to children that don’t seem to want to persevere. The minute something seems too hard, they throw in the towel. Every night during homework I hear a constant refrain of complaints, self-doubt and cries. Before every piano practice session or cross country practice – things they have asked to join mind you – I hear complaints. Things that should have some sense of built-in motivation do not motivate them in the slightest.

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. ~William James

So now I sit here with the evidence staring me in the face. I apparently haven’t done a good job teaching any sense of perseverance. I certainly think I’ve modeled it. And I know I’ve said many times that it’s important not to quit. That a commitment deserves to be seen through to the end. That the hardest things in life are the things that teach us the most. That we shouldn’t spend our time complaining – fix the problem.

And yet… my children seem easily intimidated by a challenge. So the question I have now is how hard do I push? How adamantly do I insist they not quit? They’ll see something through if I make them. In fact, they’ll even succeed. But does it actually accomplish anything if I’m the only one persevering? Will they grow up and know how to push themselves eventually??

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2 thoughts on “teaching perseverance

  1. This made me laugh out loud. I just didn’t see the second half coming…

    You’re raising fine kids – really, really great kids – but this is something I struggle with in my kids, too. I think they’re willing to persevere when it’s something important to them (example: wearing me down until I let them eat Fruit Gushers with breakfast). But, they haven’t yet figured out what’s important to them. And, the things that are important to them one day are not always still important the next. Lots of new options out there – why not try them all?

    Our job is to be an example and to model the things that are important. They’re watching and, while it may not happen quickly, they will realize which things are worth working for.

  2. i think lisa is right. There may be no evidence of the teachings until much later, but as adults and older teens I think they will begin to see what strength they have inside thanks to your perseverence and good examples.

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