Published May 12, 2017 at 10:00 am on Girl Talk HQ–thank you Asha Dahya.
Angela Cortez’s sixteen-year-old daughter had an eye-opening experience when her mom mustered her courage to share that when Chantal was a little girl they had lived on food stamps. Angela also shared how she had made personal sacrifices to achieve a career as a newspaper journalist. Prior to that discussion, Angela felt her daughter really did not understand the depth of their poverty because the child had been too young to remember.
Angela came to realize this critical defining moment was timely since her daughter was becoming very materialistic. Her daughter enjoyed a very nice life and was unaware of the significant obstacles that her mom overcame such as participating in social activities that had helped provide the comfortable lifestyle Chantal was now enjoying.
Many mothers neglect to share the steppingstone stories that reveal their courage with their children. The word courage comes from the French word corage, meaning “heart and spirit.” Claiming this definition confirms that courage is really about acting from our heart and spirit, from the center of our being.
For over twenty years, I have researched the behaviors and nuances of the misunderstood virtue called courage, and I am convinced that our culture’s limited understanding of courage holds us all back from living in our true Self, especially women. The traditional understanding of courage limits it to physical bravado displayed in extreme situations such as split second decisions or the concept that courage can only be displayed in the face of fear or danger. It also seems that many of us believe that only larger-than-life personalities are capable of responding with courage. Yet, for the vast majority of the world’s “everyday mom’s,” life provides daily instances of courageous acts.
In this case, Angela’s story demonstrated several aspects of a mother’s courage such as:
- how to overcome a difficult time to achieve a good level of comfort and security (that her daughter now enjoys),
- how to be vulnerable to provide her daughter with an example of courage, and how she intentionally used this example to create a career to climb out of poverty
- how to overcome the status quo pit fall and social tier steeped in complacency, and
- how to share an intimate conversation (or what I refer to as a “courageous conversation”).
Recognizing Teen Profiles in Courage
Unfortunately, many moms do not recognize when courage is demonstrated by their children. How can they if they can’t identify it in themselves?
I will be the first to admit that I am no lifelong expert on children’s issues; however, I did grow up knowing I had courage. To this day, my mom demonstrates a boatload of courage. While she may be petite, she says, “Don’t let my size fool you!”
Below are a few examples children/teenagers may face that require everyday courage and a courageous conversation. As you read the list, check off the courage behaviors you already teach and highlight the ones you need to discuss with your children:
- It takes courage to confront bigotry and get to know someone different from you. Even small courage acts show character.
- It takes courage to speak openly about sexual misconduct by staff at your school, such as inappropriate comments, jokes or physical contact.
- It takes courage to accept your looks and your beauty image.
- It takes courage not to lie or make little cheating changes. (Once you start the lie you have to continue the lie).
- It takes courage to question/challenge a teacher’s viewpoint such as global warming, evolution (dissent is difficult at all ages) or negotiate your score on a paper or test.
- It takes courage to resist temptations particularly if people push you to do something wrong rather than maintain moral conviction.
- It takes courage to declare your opinion, such as raising your hand when no one else will.
- It takes courage to stick up for a friend who is being bullied or made fun of.
- It takes courage to understand suicide whether as a choice or in grief.
- It takes courage to say “I am sorry” after you have lied or hurt someone.
- It takes courage to leave a clique that mistreats you.
- It takes courage to understand that even your mother can get cancer.
- It takes courage to accept your new stepparent.
- It takes courage to stand up to a bully or walk away from someone with an imposing attitude.
- It takes courage to say “no” to a friend who is encouraging a wrong action.
- It takes courage to not get wrapped up in other people’s opinions and the hook of a superficial world.
- It takes courage to move away from home, family and friends and head off to college.
- It takes courage to present in front of the class.
- It takes courage to cope daily with diabetes or asthma.
- It takes courage to ask your dream guy for a date to the prom.
- It takes courage to believe in and be yourself!
Hopefully, along with virtues such as patience, honesty, tolerance, kindness or compassion you are teaching your children about their unique individual courage. Just remember: the original definition of the word courage is Old French corage, meaning “heart and spirit.”
The best tactic to immerse courage into a child’s life is to start using the word! Many Moms will struggle with this task if they are unable to give themselves permission to claim and integrate their individual courage. Eventually, mere exposure to the word and conscious courage actions such as those defined above will raise a mom’s awareness. The outcome of this awareness will be transforming and renewing (along with the effect on our children). When was the last time you used the word courage with your children?
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