Family Activity

The Right Kind of Persistence

In Luke's Gospel, Jesus taught his followers to always pray. The parable of the persistent neighbor was a case in point. The neighbor would even make a fool out of himself in the pursuit of bread for his traveling friend. In the same way, we are to pray and never give up.

In human affairs, however, persistence has its advantages and its limits. Persistence needs wisdom to temper it pursuit, yet encourage its endeavor. When we try to instill such wisdom to our children, we, as parents, can reach the extent of our patience. How can you "channel" the high-achieving child, and motivate the child would just "likes to get along?"

Try the following variation on "tug-of-war" with your family to address such wisdom. Set up a tug-of-war line and rope. Then place a strong adult on one side and a small child on the other. The child should be encouraged to pull the rope that the adult holds on the other side of the line. (The adult should resist, but not pull back; obviously the rope will not move.) After a few moments, have the child stop. Instruct the child to let the rope go slack, but not to drop the rope. (Have the adult do likewise). Now, have the child tug the rope lightly, with a little slack in the line. (The adult should follow the rope's tugs until he or she crosses the line.) After a few rounds, discuss the game. What was the easiest way to win the game? Why didn't pulling hard on the rope work? Why would giving up be a waste of time?