It starts when our children take their first tumble as they are learning to walk. Should we let them do this even though we know how wobbly they are? We clearly understand the likelihood of a bumped head or heaven forbid a tumble down the stairs. Is the risk worth the reward? When they drive out of the driveway on the way to a friend’s house for the first time, is the risk of an accident worth the reward of having a child who is a little more self-sufficient? We all do it differently, but as parents we are pretty good at risk management, at least for our own families and given our own priorities.
Some people live life to the fullest and feel justified in continually adding one more experience to their list or their child’s list, or one more stamp to their passport. For these families, it is too great a risk not to seize every opportunity. Other people like to research their options before proceeding with caution. A trip to the lake with friends may be too great a risk for their daughter at a certain age. I think it is a good idea to ask yourself, what you are willing to risk or let your daughter risk, in order to encourage her growth into a functioning and healthy young woman. The answer will be unique to each of us.
Even the word “risk” can provoke anxiety or excitement, depending on the person and at times the age of the person. For some, the risk of a “B” in a challenging course at Harpeth Hall is too great a risk. It may lead one to ask if attending a school like Harpeth Hall is worth the risk of a less than perfect transcript. If you risk a “B” or “C”, will she still get into her college of choice? At times that same person doesn’t hesitate to let her daughter travel to Uganda or Kenya. The measured risk of disease or injury may be worth the reward of broadening her horizons and creating a more culturally competent individual. Auditioning for another play may not be worth the risk of not making it. To some, sitting on the bench another year is not worth the risk of being seen as a second rate athlete. Still at other times, a student may finally recognize that another night without enough sleep is not a risk worth taking for a higher quiz grade.
No doubt all of us have to reach our own conclusions about the right amount of risk for each of us and our families, but my sincere hope is that Harpeth Hall is a place where girls feel safe taking healthy risks every day. I hope a girl can risk a little embarrassment about a question in Spanish so she can figure out what the teacher is saying. I hope she will risk not being elected and go ahead and run for that leadership position anyway. I hope we provide a place where any student is free to risk standing up for what she knows is right while simultaneously tossing the dice on being a little less cool. Finally, I hope she will risk any defeat for the right reason because she knows we are always here to pick her up and brush her off.
For parents, I offer my congratulations! You have taken a huge risk by simply having children. I hope you will continue to take risks by being the only parent you know who says “no” to some things and “yes” to others. Go ahead, live on the edge with your daughters and take the right risk for you!