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One Family’s Mantra & How it Has Shaped Them

A sweet friend of mine introduced me to Tiffany because she knew I’d like her family mantra. No surprise—she was right! Read this, and be prepared to want to do hard things! 

Our family motto is “I can do hard things.”

I first heard it back in 2007. It was just a blip in an article I was reading, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. At the time, I had a 14-month-old baby that had miraculously come into our lives after years of waiting, my husband was knee deep in graduate school and had just found out that his job was being outsourced in a few weeks…and I had just be asked to lead our congregation’s youth organization (about 20 girls aged 12-18). So I started saying it to myself regularly.

Unemployment? “I can do hard things.”

The main sewer line burst and our yard in now a $2000 disaster zone? Deep breath. “I can do hard things.”

My husband is working 90 hour weeks on top of 600 level graduate night courses and I was up all night with the baby at the hospital because of an urinary infection? No problem. “I can do hard things.”

It became my go-to phrase, instead of my regular, ugly alternatives: I can’t do this anymore. I’m so stressed. I’m overwhelmed.

The funny thing is, it was true! I COULD do hard things. None of the hard things beat me. I not only managed to live through all of them, but I walked away from each incident as a stronger person. Even all these years later it still holds true.

Eventually, it became such a common phrase that my husband started saying it. Our family grew. It became an incredibly valuable motto while raising children. When the kids had a long way to go and were seconds away from a meltdown? I would gather them in my arms and whisper, “You can do hard things.” The tears began to dissipate. It was like magic. When my husband took them outside to help with chores, I could hear my daughter cry out, “I can’t do it!” and my husband’s reply, “Yes you can! You can do hard things!” And suddenly, she found that she COULD clean out the chicken coop after all.

Like most things, we were never quite sure how much the lesson was sinking in until we were returning home from a visit to Grammy & Pop-Pop’s house. We were stuck in holiday traffic and had now been in the car 7 hours, with an hour to go. My son had repeatedly dropped his milk cup in hard-to-reach places. I was driving and this time, the cup was way out of my husband’s ability to grasp from the passenger seat.

He said, “I’m sorry buddy. You’re just going to have to wait until we get home to have more milk. I just can’t reach that far.”

Perry, then age 2, replied, “Yes you can, Daddy. You can do hard things!”

My husband looked at me, smiled and just managed to reach the cup, to which my son patted his shoulder and said, “See? I told ya!”

They were getting it.

We never officially proclaimed “I can do hard things” as our family motto until a fantastic hike this past summer. On the drive home we decided that it was irrefutable. We can do hard things. It’s our motto and I think it will grace our lips regularly until the day we die.

Side note: Is the cuteness of Tiffany’s kids just killing you? Thanks so much for sharing, Tiffany! 

More Reading:
Building Family Identity with a Family Purpose Statement
Our Family’s Purpose Statement

Linked up with Grace at Home and Works for Me Wednesday.

11 Comments

  1. Lorie says:

    Love this! I want to try and make this part of my vocabulary of phrases that I say to myself and my children! What an important tool for anyone, especially our children, to have and know Thanks for sharing.

    1. Erica Layne says:

      Hi Lorie! Oh I agree! We’ll slip it in there pretty regularly with our kids, but Tiffany’s story really makes me want to solidify it as a core value for our family. I love how much potential it has to help both parents AND kids believe in themselves.

  2. Erin says:

    Thanks, Tiffany! That story about the sippy cup is so cute – and the perfect illustration! I love this mantra, too, and plan to use it in my own family.

    1. Erica Layne says:

      Thanks, Betsy! I really do too. I can see this fitting well with your family. Miss ya!

  3. This was the theme for our Young Women’s Virtue Conference last summer. Sister Elaine Dalton came and spoke. It is so true. We can do hard things!
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  4. What a gift for our children to hear that they can do hard things! The next time I’m tempted to tell Wendy that something is too difficult for her, I’m going to try to remember to clap my hand over my mouth.
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  5. Dave says:

    Erica,
    This is a great article. I have 2 daughters; one is in college, the other will be a high school senior this Fall. They’ve proved, over the years, that they can do hard things without me telling them emphatically.
    Still, I wish I had adopted this mantra years ago.

    1. Erica Layne says:

      Good for you, Dave! I love hearing from parents who are farther down the road than I am. You must be proud of those girls. There’s a lot to be said about learning from experience, not just from hearing your parents say something :) , so it sounds like you guys have done well.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

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