She can do hard things

Last week I shared that several of my kids were working towards a memory challenge as a part of the homeschool community we attend. I also shared that my oldest daughter was having the hardest time – lots of tears and lots of wanting to quit. Her older brothers had all gone through the process before and were so encouraging. Several of you asked about how I pushed her to get past the point of wanting to quit. I thought I would do a little interview with her and let her share her perspective.

On Tuesday she completed the challenge and I’ve never seen her so proud of herself or outright giddy. It is awesome! I am so proud of her.

In regards to pushing her to tackle the challenge – the bottom line is I knew she could do it. I knew deep down she wanted to do it. I also knew it would take a lot of help from me and I was in a position I could offer that help (though many days I wanted to quit too!). It is a fine line in parenting to know when to push and when pushing does more damage than good. I think it boils down to really knowing your kids and being willing (and able) as a parent to do your part to help them with whatever it is they are working towards.


I asked her a couple of questions about the process. I’ll add my input too.

Why did you want to give up?

Because it was too hard.

How did it feel when you wanted to stop, but I kept pushing you to keep trying?

It was really hard and frustrating.

For about 2 weeks she daily struggled with wanting to quit. Most days she was just feeling overwhelmed. A couple days involved big tears and then coming out of it. I kept a close eye on her and tried to be extra aware of her emotions and what was causing the tears. She was facing mountain that felt impossible to climb, but each day she made significant progress. I tried to constantly and consistently show her how far she had come.


Was there anything I did or said that was helpful?

Yes. When you told me I would be able to stand on a stage, make a video, get a medal and pick a special place to go celebrate. I wanted to do the fun things and be on the stage!

The girl loves a stage. Her goal was to get to stand on stage at the closing ceremonies for our homeschool campus. My goal was for her to learn and know deep in her bones she could do hard things. I think it is important to recognize we are not all motivated by the same things or even want the same things. Being on a stage would be a punishment for me, but for her it is the stuff dreams are made of. 


If you could tell other parents anything about helping their kids when they want to quit, what would you tell them?

You can just say, “If you try, you will get to do something fun and afterwards you will be really proud of yourself.”

Fun. She is motivated by fun. Just like her daddy 🙂 Each year I take the kids that do the memory challenge on a fun celebration date – last year it was an hour at SkyZone with me. They are discussing this year’s celebration date.

If a kid is trying something hard and wants to quit – even cries because it is so hard – should the parent let their kid quit?

No, because you know that they can do it. If you think they can do it, they probably can. You have to just keep pushing them. That is what my mom did.


Did you get upset at me for pushing you?

Yes, because I really wanted to quit. Then after a little while I really wanted to do it, but it was super hard. I asked you to help me and you did.

How did it feel when you finished and you realized you did it?

I was SUPER happy. Once I got home I wasn’t tired for a long time. I stayed up late because I couldn’t go to sleep.

She was literally running circles in our front yard in the dark.


Do you want to try hard things again?

Yes, because I know I can do hard things. That was just the beginning of hard things. There will be much more harder stuff, but at the end I know I’ll be really proud of myself and I’ll get to do something really, really fun.

I’m a Memory Master. BAM. WHAT!


I’m thankful for the facts and information she knows, but that is not most important to me. More than I want my kids to be textbook smart, I want them to be life skills smart. I want them to love learning and know how to learn. I want them to face mountains and tackle those mountains even when part of them wants to turn around and run.

She can tell you 100s of grammar, math, science, history, latin, geography and timeline facts – all of which are valuable. However, she can also tell you that she can do hard things and she isn’t so afraid of the tasks that seem impossible anymore. Parenting is hard. Watching your kids struggle is hard. Knowing when to push is hard. BUT goodness is it all worth it. Seeing her smile and knowing her perspective of what she is capable of has forever changed is completely worth all the hard moments and tears.

She can do hard things. And now she knows it. Bam.What!



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  • Anniken - What kind of memory challenge was it? Like what did she have to learn? Seems like something my kids would love to work towards…

  • Tiffany - AWESOME LESSON!! It’s so important to be well rounded not just book smart, the facts are just the icing on the cake. BAM. WHAT! (Disney show right?, haha!)

  • Beth - Love the jubilation on her face! Way to photodocument this accomplishment!

  • Crystal Jolley - This is so awesome and encouraging!! Also made me think that YOU do hard things, too. She has an excellent example! That’s one thing I’m always motivated by from your stories here and am challenged by…it all shines through – your discipline, staying consistent and being intentional with your children in so many aspects. 🙂

  • Tara - Thank you for sharing this – such a encouraging post for parents AND kids. We don’t homeschool but I’m interested in supplementing with something like this. Can you tell me what you program you use and where you got the cards? I know you’ve mentioned this before but I couldn’t find it when I searched your site. Thank you! Please congratulate your daughter on an amazing accomplishment!

  • Jessica P - So great! Congratulations! I’m proud of you both! 🙂

  • Debbie C - What an awesome lesson to learn! And thank you for the reminder that we are all motivated by different things. I guess a key is to know what will motivate each child to push through the hard work. Love this “interview”. ?

  • susie - Tell her thanks for the interview! It helped me today, we are starting a business and sometimes it feels so hard, but I just have to keep on!

  • SentSue - Congrats Sweet Pea! So proud of you and your love of life is inspiring even for an old person like me!

  • Ethel White - Awesome, girl. You should be very proud of yourself, glad you are!!!

  • Emily Bartnikowski - Woohoo! Way to go Firecracker!!

  • Ellen - This post and the previous one days before the memory challenge were so encouraging to me. We’re in our second year of the same homeschool program, and we haven’t braved this final memory challenge yet. I know my child could do it but I’ve struggled knowing how to approach it. I’m inspired to do the hard parenting work next year to make it a reality! Thank you and congrats to all your memory masters!

  • Sandy Anderson - I would also love to know more about the memory challenge she completed!

  • corinne collins - Maybe you’ve mentioned it before…but what and where did you get those cards? we use Red Apple reading now thanks to you and love it! Thank you for all the encouragement on homeschooling! Its always nice to hear about it.

  • jenny - oh, how i love this! it reminds me of an article i read in taproot magazine recently… the woman’s father had taken a picture with her on the summit of a mountain and wrote on the back “girl can climb mountains without complaining”. that photo and the caption had quite an amazing impact on her life 🙂 i love that you interviewed her for the post. it was so fun to hear it from her 🙂

  • Neha - That she kept going is what is important..:)…I too would like to know about the Program. n the Flash Cards..

  • Sophia - Can you tell us what flashcards/program you use? Sounds like a great summer activity/challenge.

  • Julie - Congrats!! My nine-year-old just completed his first Memory Master and he’s so proud too! I really agree with you; way more important than all those facts he learned was the character building this year that came of setting a goal, working really hard for it and not giving up, and seeing himself achieve the goal.

  • Krystin - This is soon amazing! We too are part of the same homeschool co-op and I haven’t been brave enough to even think about Memory Master. But Im thinking next year is the year 🙂 Congrats to her and to you momma for keep on pushing her a long!

  • Amber - I was on the train (homeschool trip) yesterday and the kiddo in front of me was practicing for mega memory master (all three cycles)… it was amazing! Congrats to your girl and to you for knowing her and what she can do!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh Firecracker! I’m so proud of you! Great, great job! Wish I could see you up there on that stage! I know you’ll rock it!

  • Jillian - I LOVE this. I was going to wait a couple more years to begin Classical Conversations, but I may need to up this timeline. I really love hearing you share about your homeschooling days. It is such a motivation. Thank you for letting us peek into your school day! <3 I wouldn't be mad if you did it more often. 😉