True Grit | 7/19/2018 | Rick Lawrence
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A couple of mornings every week, I walk my middle-school daughter and my cabin-fever dog to the bus stop on the corner before I head off to work. We live in Denver, and during the winter months it’s as cold as you think it’s supposed to be in the “Mountain” time zone. When the bus is late, the kids are shaking—especially the boys, who insist on wearing basketball shorts no matter what the weatherman says.

The recipe for misery, if you’re a teenager, is the prospect of a long, margin-less day of school preceded by icicles forming at the corner of your mouth. For a long time, something has been happening at that bus stop that really gnaws at me. While most of the kids stand there shivering, making goofy conversation to take their mind off the cold, a few parents habitually drive their fully-functioning teenagers to the stop and have them wait in the warmth of their SUV until the bus pulls up.

Parents - Kids - Block - Minutes - Cold

Yes, these parents drive their kids a block or two to save them from seven-ish minutes in the cold, then drive back home after the bus leaves. Like most parents, they feel compassion for their kids’ hardships and they look for ways to take the edge off. But it’s just that edge their kids most need, and they are unwittingly denying them a great treasure—it’s called “grit.”

Duke University professor J. Bryan Sexton, a leading researcher in the study of resilience and well-being, says grit “is a function of your ability to cope.” When a hard thing happens, or when a goal is thwarted, grit is the engine that drives perseverance. And in an increasingly challenging world, grit is a more precious resource than any other personal characteristic. So much has been said about the cultural phenomenon of “helicopter...
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