The Real Meaning of Brave

A wonderful post on “A Mighty Girl” today about supporting our children to be truly brave. 

There are so many ways that we can be brave in nursing.. Working with the “difficult patient” no one else wants to care for, speaking up with a physician and getting to the bottom of a patient’s plan of care, being present with a patient during a difficult time (staying with someone as they cry or when they’ve received bad news, instead of turning around to page the Chaplain for a consult), letting a bully know you’re there for your patients and won’t be abused, or being the one who turns the jaded, sarcastic conversation around instead of partaking and letting the poison touch you, too. 

Being brave is hard.

After being asked by a reader “What is Brave?”, blogger Glennon Doyle Melton recounted an experience that made her come to understand that “brave does not mean what we think it does… Brave is very specific and extremely personal.” In her post, Melton talks about her own experience with her daughters’ two different kinds of bravery, which she saw when she took them both to get their ears pierced. 

“When it was our turn, my younger daughter took a deep breath, climbed into the chair, closed her eyes and said, ‘OK! I’m ready!’ The piercer smiled and laughed and several onlookers said, ‘Look at her! So brave! That little one is so brave!’” But when her older daughter hesitated, “Everyone looked at her expectantly and the piercer waved her over, but she stood still and said in a small voice, ‘I changed my mind. I’m not ready today.’ Before I could speak, the well-meaning piercer said, ‘Sure you are, sweetie! Be brave! Your little sister did it! It doesn’t hurt at all!’”
Melton says, “We have to teach our children (and ourselves) that caution is often a sign of courage. That often NO is as brave an answer as YES. Because the little girl who says no in the face of pressure to pierce her ears or jump off a cliff might become a bigger girl who says no in the face of pressure to bong a beer or bully a peer. Whether her answer is YES OR NO — give me a little girl who goes against the grain, who pleases her own internal voice before pleasing others.”
She writes, “If we are going to tell our kids to be brave, we must also tell them what brave means…. It does not mean ‘being afraid and doing it anyway.’ Nope. Brave means listening to the still small voice inside and doing as it says. Regardless of what the rest of the world is saying. Brave implies wisdom.” So, she says, “Sometimes brave means letting everyone else think you’re a coward. Sometimes brave is letting everyone else down but yourself. [Younger daughter] Amma’s brave is often: loud and go for it and [older daughter] Tish’s brave is often: quiet and wait for it. They are both brave girls. Because each is true to herself.”
So when the piercer challenged Tish to go ahead, urging her to be brave, Melton instead told her daughter, “Wow. That is so brave, honey. Even though all these people are here and want you to do this to your ears — you listened to yourself instead of to them. I am so proud of you. Trusting yourself to make decisions about your own body is so brave. You are brave, Tish, in your way. Just like Amma is brave in her way. Let’s go. You’ll know when you’re ready. I trust you to know.” So, she says, “Brave is: To Thine Own Self Be True. And Brave parents say: I trust you, little one — to Be Still and Know. I’ll back you up.”
To read Glennon Melton’s entire post on HuffPost, visit Melton is also the author of the bestselling parenting guide, “Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life,” at
For a humorous book that encourages kids to think before blindly following a trend, we highly recommend “Stephanie’s Ponytail” for ages 4 to 8 at
For an empowering picture book about the value of being true to yourself regardless of what others think, check out “Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are” for ages 3 to 8 at 
For an excellent guide for girls on staying true to yourself even in the midst of the challenging friendship dynamics of the pre-teen years, we highly recommend “A Smart Girl’s Guide: Drama, Rumors & Secrets” for ages 8 to 12 at
For a fantastic guide for teen girls that teaches them how to find their voice and understand its importance, we recommend “Express Yourself: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are” for ages 13 and up at
And, for many stories for both children and teens starring brave Mighty Girls — ones who possess both the ‘quiet’ and ‘loud’ forms of bravery — visit our “Courage & Bravery” book section at


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