Last Sunday, as I started my usual weekend morning routine of grabbing my phone and casually scrolling through social media, the title of an article caught my eye on one of the pages I follow for parents of older children. College Professor: Parents, Let your Teens ‘Do Hard Things’ by Karen Spierling. The timing of the article hit just right, as my oldest child is navigating tough decisions in changing his college path, and my youngest is contemplating where her college journey will begin. The article confirmed that I was on the right path towards my goal of supporting them THROUGH the journey while finding the balance of offering guidance and letting them figure out this hard stuff. I can’t do it for them nor do I want to. I want my children to experience life fully. I’ll always be their crash pad and be ready to absorb a fall with them, but I don’t want to discourage them to avoid something that they could fall from.
Throughout the article, I also reflected on what we do here at SYC and how we support kids in doing hard things at an early age. One of our long time SYCisms has been “You can do hard things.” It’s true. We want to empower them so that they can do hard things. But as I was reading I wondered if the families we serve know WHY we want them to do the hard things?
And then I saw it. Spelled out right in front of me in the article.
“Finding schools where our children are comfortable doing hard things-where they can get comfortable with being uncomfortable-is one of the most valuable gifts we can give them.
Hard can be frustrating, but part of the challenge is to figure out strategies for persisting through those frustrations. Hard should not mean emotionally or physically damaging. But sometimes, it can mean tears. Or moments of exhaustion. Or screaming into a pillow……
Doing hard things leads to a feeling of accomplishment.
Hard is an essential element to satisfaction, accomplishment, pride and growth. These are keys to our children’s success in the adult world.”
At SYC we recognize we cannot remove all the uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes there are hard things that we want to do and sometimes there are hard things that we need to do. We strive to offer the tools and teach the skills to manage the uncomfortable. We build relationships with each child so they have a support system to trust and rely on. A literal crash pad is ready to absorb the potential fall from a climber. Tricky skills are broken down into doable parts. Our job is to listen and to be a calm presence rather than to rescue them from the hard things. We know that on the other side of the hard thing is resilience and the pride that comes from doing hard things.
-Amy Rudawsky, SYC Co-Director