I was thinking some more on my common core math post from the other day. Specifically the viral social media posts we see on Facebook, like the frustrated parent (an electronics engineer with an extensive study in “higher math applications”) who cannot figure out a pretty basic math problem, then writes a snarky letter to the teacher.

What exactly is that teaching their child? That it’s OK to give up and not even try? To instead rely on snark and excuses? They obviously took some time to come up with the idea for the letter and write it down, so why not take that time and put effort into figuring out the question? It isn’t that hard and even if it was, I’m sure heading over to Google and searching for ‘math number line’ would have come up with some resources to help them figure it out.

Anyway, this led me to start thinking about grit.

courage and resolve; strength of character.

Also known as tenacity, endurance, fortitude, mettle, determination, and toughness. In my opinion, one of the most important traits of successful people and one of the top traits us parents can teach our children.

As a parent, I imagine the example above went down like this: they came home from a long day at work. Their child asks them for help with a math problem. The parent takes a quick look, figures out the answer to the equation very quickly, but given how easy the equation was, they don’t understand why the question is even necessary. So that sets off the need to make an example of this new fangled math. The focus changes from the child’s homework to the parent’s problem.

But I think it’s more commonly this, from a post in The Atlantic called Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail:

The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.

This overparenting “is characterized in the study as parents’ misguided attempt to improve their child’s current and future personal and academic success.”

As a parent, the right thing to do is not insuring a low stress educational career or manipulating situations to improve your child’s success or going out of our way to make sure our kids never fail. It is this: teaching them to persevere through failure, to keep trying, to keep learning & growing, to be curious, to be problem solvers. Those skills will set your kid up for a lifetime of success.


I am a patient boy.

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