My response to a reader’s comment on the July post about Confidence was too long, so it’s now a post.
Here’s the comment:
When I read “It is that level of confidence that has garnered her a reputation as someone who will question right and wrong and standup for others and to others” I couldn’t help but think of Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland was also a woman, a Black woman, who was confident enough to question and stand up to a police officer in a situation where he was clearly wrong. Did you ever think confidence was a double edged sword for your children? On the one hand, it made them successful; on the other hand, that confidence could cause others to harm them.
Let me begin by thanking DEM, the reader, for sharing his/her thoughts and giving me an opportunity to further expound on the notion of instilling confidence in children. But before I do that, I want to uncouple the tragic incidents that lead to Sandra Bland’s death and the notion of confidence. Here’s why – when a mentally compromised person – I’m referring to the officer – with a weapon is out to get you, and the balance of power is woefully uneven (unarmed, black, civilian woman vs. armed, white, male police officer) I don’t know if there is anything one can do or say (or not say i.e., silence) to deescalate the situation.
Let me share my personal account of being targeted by an overly aggressive police officer. The officer, who approached my car from behind, was screaming at the top of her lungs about how I ran a red light (I absolutely did not), and threatened to call child protective services for my two year-old, seated behind me in car seat, because she was going to lock me up. I sat in the car in silence. As far as I could tell she was crazy and I didn’t want to say a word, make a move, or display emotion for fear that it would give her an excuse to make good on her threat. After sitting in silence for what seemed like forever, she finally snarled, “You better be lucky I have a heart for children” and ordered me to go. She gave me no ticket and no warning. My decision to be silent was purely instinctive. I didn’t give any thought to it because I didn’t have time to. When someone with a gun who is mad-angry is approaching and you aren’t in a position to run or fight back (fight or flight), you do the next best thing. For me, that was sitting still and being silent.
Now I’ll address the complement to instilling confidence in children – humility. It is imperative to teach children humility. While my husband and I were very intentional about instilling confidence, humility was more organic. From a very early age, our son and daughter learned to appreciate everything that was given to them, including life. We even taught them to be thankful for their intelligence. I remember my husband telling our son (he couldn’t have been more than 10 at that time) that his quick comprehension and memorization were gifts that he needed to cherish. We also demanded that they respect our authority. Confidence is an honorable characteristic, but absent humility it’s less than honorable; it’s arrogance. Our children are confident, not arrogant. They are thankful and respectful. As for keeping them from harm, we pray for their safety and protection everyday. In the name of Jesus. Amen.