By Kacee Bree Jensen
Photo by Getty Images

Having resilience, persistence, drive, the ability to overcome adversity, and dreams seem to be cliché since we read them in 15 Instagram quotes a day, but they are life skills we need to navigate life. Challenges can wear us down and often cause us to lose hope, but I was reminded by my child how beautiful it is to face something head on and be better for it. We can learn from the beauty of a child’s faith, hope, excitement, naivety, and wonder—things that many of us have lost over the years.  

Life Changes

My kids have experienced a lot of change in a short amount of years. When we recently made another big move to a new town it felt harder than usual. My son had been in the same school for three years and had his crew all set.

I grew up an athlete and after a few painful early years of my son dancing on the field rather than kicking the soccer ball, I had resigned myself to the fact he was not an athlete and instead celebrated his love for other things. Well, our kids can change, and all of a sudden, this year he has developed a passion (dare I say, obsession?) for sports. So, when we moved I quickly signed him up for whatever teams I could get him on to ease the transition. I knew it would be more competitive here in the Los Angeles area where we moved, but I had no idea what he was in for at the first basketball practice.

RELATED: How Sports Empower Girls and Provide the Tools to Win at Life

His Resilience

We were coming from what I thought was a good league, where they practiced once a week. But my sweet boy—a second grader who is used to being one of the tallest and best athletes—walked into that practice of 20-plus boys who towered over him, had been playing together for years, and who looked like they work out seven days a week, determined and full of drive. I took one look around, asked my husband if we were in the right place, and felt a deep sense of fear for him.

They began to run drills that I have only seen Division 1 college athletes do. I waited for my son to make the “get me out of here” eye contact but he never did. He had never done drills in his life, yet he persisted with a great attitude. The first break came up, and I thought for sure he would ask me to leave, however he just gave me a big smile, red-faced, dripping with sweat, and said did you see me shoot that 3? At that moment I got happy tears. I was so proud of my little guy for not feeling intimidated, fearful, or insecure. He knew he was struggling, but his face didn’t show it. He never stopped trying and pushing.

At the end of the two hours, he asked to stay longer to shoot baskets. I was shocked. We stayed another half-hour as my husband ran to get “feel better” pizza. It turns out we didn’t need it; my son was elated that he got to learn so much, and he was eager to go back the following day of practice. This made me think of all of the fearful responses I have had to things in my own life—fears that have limited myself or them. I don’t want to be someone who is limited by fear and insecurity. I know I will experience that gut response at times, but I choose to remember my son's reaction to push through with inhibition and passion.

Parents, Let’s Try That (With Feeling!)

Let’s make a list of all the things we have wanted to do or try or finish that we haven’t because of fear or insecurity.

Now, what’s a specific story of your child being full of faith that can encourage you to get out of your comfort zone?

We can learn so much from our kids, as they each have unique qualities many of which we do not possess ourselves. My daughter is the most outgoing person you will meet. When she approaches people, she is never thinking “I hope they like me,” she thinks, “I will be a great friend to that person.” She calls everyone friend and expects them to be friendly as well. This is a quality that has challenged me; it is challenging to get to know people at the park, at the pool, at the gym without deciding beforehand that they won’t like me.

10 Things I Have Learned from My Kids

  1. View experiences as beautiful discoveries and adventures.
  2. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Believe that people like you. Don’t overthink relationships.
  4. Use your words to express how you are feeling in a sincere manner.
  5. Believe you can be or do anything no matter your looks, size, or talent. Hard work can get you far.
  6. Try new things with passion.
  7. Exploring and being creative is freeing.
  8. When you get hurt cry a little, tell someone, then off you go.
  9. Change is hard but full of new possibilities and friends.
  10. Faith is a beautiful part of life.

*Bonus: Making silly faces and skipping make everything better.

As adults we need to make some trades. I think we need to peel back some negative thoughts and experiences and trade them in for some childlike beliefs. Trade:

  • Fear for faith
  • Impossible for hope
  • Critical judgement for benefit of the doubt
  • Bitterness for forgiveness
  • What if for maybe
  • No for why not
  • I’d never for it’s possible
  • Continue on with your own list.

Try new things with your kids. New for them is great, but new for both of you is even better. Road trip, travel, meet new people. Watch how they experience life and do the same. Return to that child who went to Disneyland for the first time. Remember that? What if we experienced life like that all the time? It would be a lot more fun!

Kacee Bree Jensen is the founder of Let's Talk Teens, a place parents and teens can go to find resources and tools to navigate the modern world we are living in. Kacee is a youth advocate, speaker, contributor, parenting coach, and mom of four including a teen, who has spent the last 16 years helping families, schools, and communities across the country navigate the ups and downs of the teen years.