Legacy Dad: "You Can Do It"
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
You can do it! You are almost there! Just move your left foot up to the next one!”
We were in Winter Park, CO and I was at the base of the climbing wall shouting up to my 5 year old daughter GracieKate. She was already farther up the wall than I would have predicted and was well on her way to hitting the bell at the top.
But then she got stuck. Fear overcame her. She couldn’t seem to get to the next spot. She looked down at me with tears in her eyes saying “I can’t do it.”
I had a decision to make. It’s a decision that every father faces throughout their child’s life. Do I encourage her to come back down or do I encourage her to keep going?
The questions that were running through my mind as she was dangling on the outdoor climbing wall with 10 or so spectators watching her and also watching me were this:
Can she actually make it to the top? I didn’t want to encourage her to do something that was impossible to achieve.
Did she even want to make it to the top? Or was she just doing it for me?
The answers I came to were... Yes, she can make it...I’m pretty sure. : ) And yes she definitely wants to make it. This was her 4th attempt in the last hour to make it. She wasn’t giving up.
But I knew from personal experience that in the middle of trying something new, even though I believed I could be successful when I start something, my confidence can start to waver when adversity comes.
My daughter needed a confidence boost from her dad. She needed someone to believe in her when she didn’t believe in herself.
I continued, “GracieKate, I know you can do this. It’s just one step at a time. Move your left up to the next notch and push up!”
She tried. She failed. Her foot kept slipping off.
I doubled down.
“GracieKate try again. I know you can do it.”
“Ok good, your foot is there! Now just push up.”
She did it!
“Great job. You are almost there. Now just reach out to hit the bell.”
This was harder than it should have been. The tears were still coming.
I couldn’t let her get this far and not get the satisfaction of hitting the bell.
“Just hold on with your left hand and stick out that right hand to the bell. I know you can do it.”
Ding! Ding! Ding!
She did it. I was a proud dad at that moment. I felt like I was there with her when she rang that bell.
She came down and I gave her a big hug. We hi-fived. I kissed her. I told her I was proud of her.
You could see it in her face. She did something that was really hard for her to do and she was proud, as she should be.
A few days later, I brought back up her climbing wall victory.
I intentionally wanted to communicate a few truths to why her daddy was proud. I know my words matter. I purposely focused on the character that it took to hit the bell, not just the act of hitting the bell.
“GracieKate, I’m really proud of you for making it to the top. That was difficult for you but you didn’t give up. You kept going. You persevered. Great job.”
And then just to make sure she was clear on one thing....
“What if you had not made it to the top?”
She said, “I don’t know?” and shrugged her shoulders.
“Daddy would still love you. Daddy loves you the same whether you make it to the top or if you don’t make it.”
“And don’t forget that!” I said with a grin and arms stretched wide.
She smiled. We hugged.
My daughter grew in confidence that day. She persevered through adversity. When they happen, it can seem these moments are such a small thing, but I know those moments add up. She has more adversity coming in her life and it will be bigger than an outdoor climbing wall in Colorado.
It’s my job as her dad to prepare her for it.
How are you preparing your children for adversity?
How are you giving your children confidence to do hard things?