Shut Up and Step In: Courageously Loving Our Kids in Their Adventures


“Stop complaining,” she says. “It’s not that cold.” I don’t see the invitation to love my daughter courageously, how it’s pushing me past my limits into an unforgettable venture.

“Come on!” she beckons.  “We can get across right here.” I look at the white sand that has only started to warm up in the Florida January sun. A few feet away, clear aquamarine water laps at my daughter’s ankles in a shallow tidal pool. The water seems appealing, but the air’s temperature rests at an unseasonable 48 degrees Fahrenheit. I know one thing: that water is FRIGID, and I do not want to go in.

She wades in further, right up to her shins. Then she flashes a smile. I shiver as I dip my big toe in the water.

Stubbornness or Forgotten Courage?

I don’t want to. The phrase I hate to hear coming from my kids’ mouths. Ironically, it’s the phrase I say when they ask me to do something outside my comfortable plan. I don’t want to. Me. Me. Me. I disguise it with the cloak of adulthood. I say things like, “Make good choices” or “Let’s not get crazy.” Really, it’s a conservative hesitancy, a forgetting of how to live spontaneously, straight into a small courage moment.

Courage seems like such a big-league bravery word, but it’s really very tiny and a little bit silly. It makes me uncomfortable in all the right ways. But still, I don’t want to. I point out the perfectly good beach offering us a dry path to the sandbar. She beckons me again.

Wading into brave moments feels like walking barefoot into cold water. Sometimes I feel as scared as Peter did as he followed Jesus out on the sea before starting to sink (Matthew 14:22-34). Or perhaps a mild discomfort flutters in my chest.

Shhh! It’s Time To Start Wading

So I do it. I roll up my jeans and wade across. My daughter giggles as I squeal at the shock of the cold water chilling my legs. “This is soooo cold!” I shout. A lady looks at us like we have lost our minds. Answering the woman, I nod toward my daughter, “She made me do it!”

I follow Abby’s lead, but I’m griping and quick to renounce my part in what seems like an illogical escapade. This was where I needed to shut up.

If I want my kids to have courage, I’ve got to show it. A 2011 article on emphasizes this point:

Our kids’ prime examples of bravery are most likely going to come from you. Allow them to witness you stepping out of your comfort zones. If you are terrified of rollercoasters, face your fear with them and ride that monster at the park. Maybe you are afraid dancing makes you look like an idiot. Dance with them. (10 Ways To Teach Your Children To Be Brave)

We can’t miss the holy invitations beckoning us into the water. Our children feel our courageous love when we step into adventure together. Tweet This

We sit around the dinner table a few days later and she says the best moment of our mother-daughter vacation was wading across the tidal pool. Out of all the shell-collecting, and beach combing, doing whatever she wanted, that was the best memory. She points out to me as she laughs, “You complained the whole way.”

She’s right. Next time, I’ll shut up and step in.

When was the last time a child or someone else invited you to into a small courage moment? What does the experience teach you about yourself?

This blog is all about helping you be the courage you imagine, especially in the small and insignificant. Here are a few more posts to push you into the tidal pool:

YES: Living the Courageous Life You Want

Why Hard Choices Make Us Free

On Calling and Following It Straight Into the Scary Somewhere

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February 16, 2016