The Opposite of Grit

Our kids both had their first passports at 3 months old. I remember laying them on the duvet to take their “My First Passport” photos. By the time we had to renew them when they were 5 years old, it was getting a bit ridiculous. (“So you claim this baby is this child, eh?) Since those first tiny baby photos, we have travelled pretty much constantly. Trips to Portugal three or more times a year, living overseas for a while, a 6-week tour of Europe, a month in China. Our kids are desensitised to travelling and to sleeping in beds that are not their own. By travelling, they have got used to coping with change. They have no problem at all with sleepovers, or school camps, or with us sneaking off for a few days and leaving them with one or other of the grandmas. They can cope with being elsewhere than at home, and we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. It’s been a cool way to help them grow.

Our kids have a friend who struggles to cope with sleepovers and camp, at the moment. We have trailed up the lane in the dark to take this friend home because this child was just not yet ready to sleep away from mum. Interestingly, this friend is also the kindest, gentlest and most sensitive person I know; this is a child with amazing levels of empathy and emotional intelligence. This child has learned how to cope with people. Sometimes it’s useful to be tough and brave, because it opens up a world where you can be independent, and not lean on anyone else. But maybe being brave also comes with a cost? In our rush to get a gritty character into children, I wonder if something may get lost along the way. Children’s tears and fears are a normal, natural part of growing up, and giving voice to them is not abnormal. So I’ve been pondering how learning to cope is a different thing to instilling grit. And how maybe the opposite of grit is not weakness, but sensitivity.

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5 Responses to The Opposite of Grit

  1. nancy says:

    Oh I love a paradox I do, Sue. From weakness, strength.

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  2. littlemavis says:

    I think you can have sensitivity AND grit, well, maybe not grit, I still think that’s too hard. Maybe those polystyrene shapes that you get in packaging. That protects from bumps & breaks without being hard & scratchy.

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  3. julieanneda says:

    I too raised my 6 children to be independent…They are grown now with some of them having children of their own. My experience has taught me that independence doesn’t mean that they have a lack of empathy with people, in fact it gave them the *grit* to not go along with accepted behaviours of ridiculing other children when the vast majority of their peers did! Including inviting the *outcast* children home.
    5 out of 6 have gone into *caring* professions: psychologist in a prison; teacher in charge of a visually impaired unit which integrates children within the mainstream school it operates in and Nursery workers. The other is a builder but uses all the skills he learned to be the most wonderful husband, father and friend.

    I believe that giving my children the opportunities to explore themselves has given them strength to be who they are AND to fight for social justice for those who find it difficult to stand for themselves. Balancing the role of temporary shoulder to learn on with developing strength and independence mindfully in those they engage with.
    May I be so bold as to predict this will be the result of your parenting style?
    Much respect to you Sue…
    Jules xx

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