Checkpoint 3: Let your daughter “Lead the Way!”

Ranger school is, at bottom, a leadership school. Students are evaluated on how they lead their patrols in combat missions including reconnaissance, ambushes, and raids. They are tested on their decision-making ability, their teamwork, and their personal ability to accomplish any mission, especially the grueling ones. As a regiment, the U.S. Army Rangers take pride in their ability to accomplish tasks that the conventional Army finds difficult or impossible. The Ranger motto is: “Rangers Lead the Way!” The third stanza from the Ranger Creed spells out this ethos.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

If your ranger is like my young ranger, she is strong-willed, independent, and sassy. At a young age, she can already find a variety of ways to get things done. It is tempting to try and diminish this spirit in order to prevent messes, avoid embarrassment in public, or just to gain a little peace and quiet. I find, even in my own home, that I give extra scrutiny sometimes to the behavior of my daughter. She’s the first one I usually tell to clean up her room (the older boys’ rooms are often times, well, dumps). Sometimes by daughter will try to dance or sing in a waiting room, and I ask her to sit down and join me or mind her manners. These little behaviors all add up to dampening my ranger’s ability to express herself. They teach her to be a follower instead of a leader.

Another thing I find sometimes is that my daughter is often excluded from decisions about her clothing styles, or where we may eat out for supper. Some of her clothing combinations are…eclectic, if you ask me and ridiculous if you ask her mother. Coordination is a lot more difficult for girl clothing due to a variety of colors and patterns that is lacking from boy clothing. In my boys’ closets, everything matches everything (back to clothing, see?). This micro-management parenting style over the long run creates a hazard of reducing the amount of decisions she will make over time.

Every decision a child gets to make is empowering and creates an experience for learning. This is necessary experience that will add up to make girls into powerful women with the leadership ability needed for activities such as Ranger school. Let your daughter make decisions early, so she can “Lead the Way!”

Checkpoint 4: Let your daughter pursue a passion and pursue excellence

Within the Army, Rangers are exemplars . They believe that they are the best at what they do, and they are! This belief drives them to do their work even better. The motivation level exhibited by Ranger units is unmatched anywhere else in the Army. In this way, competence feeds a feeling of self-accomplishment, which itself enhances competence. Everybody in the world believes in the ability of the United States Army Rangers. This belief is is not based on who the Rangers claim to be, but in the acts they do every single day. Check out this next stanza of the Ranger Creed, which just oozes with excellence.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Picking something to get really good at is a healthy and self-reinforcing activity. There are many lessons your ranger could learn by finding a passion and pursuing it. It teaches self-motivation, goal setting, planning, perseverance, and it rewards your ranger with self-accomplishment. It also reinforces that what you do is important as opposed to how you appear. Identity becomes nested in actions instead of image.

Children will either find their own identity, or somebody will find a label or identity for them. Consider so-called “princess culture” which perpetuates archetypes of dependence and helplessness. By pursuing an activity, your ranger will begin to build her own identity around an activity that she chose herself. Try to help your ranger develop a skill that requires mastery, and can be enhanced over time. Try and help her avoid superficial goals such as beauty or fame. Help her find an activity centered around something that she can do instead of something that she can become. Always praise your ranger’s actions and deeds, such as effort and perseverance as opposed to praising her attributes such as beauty or manners.

Your ranger is going to make her own choices someday, so you might as well help her get lots of practice in the meanwhile. Maybe she’ll even choose to someday jump out of your Toyota while you’re chopping onions inside, and take a shot at Ranger School.

Keep reading on the next page, there’s only two more checkpoints to go!