Building Family Strengths: Resiliency
Many families throughout this country have shown remarkable resiliency, or flexible adjustment, to natural, economic and social challenges. Strong families are able to react to such challenges in the same way a yo-yo responds to the string: It may go down, but it also "bounces back." Resilience is not measured by wealth, muscle or efficiency but by the creativity, unity and hope that help families survive and thrive.
WHAT IS RESILIENCY?
Family resiliency is the ability to cultivate strengths within a family that will help all members meet the challenges of life positively. Because families show resiliency in unique ways, there are no universal rules for success. Resiliency involves not only the ability to cope with everyday stress, it also requires confidence, hard work, cooperation and forgiveness to increase the family's well-being. Strong families help children learn resilient behavior when they teach problem-solving skills and provide positive, non-critical support and a sense of togetherness.
Families who learn the values and skills of resiliency, cope with stress, manage relationships, and contribute to others' lives more consistently than those without such strengths.
PROMOTING RESILIENCY WITHIN FAMILIES
Resiliency becomes very evident in families who have learned to cope with overwhelming stressors. Resilient families:
- Share a commitment to each other. Commitment involves working toward shared goals through self-sacrifice, persistence, and loyalty to other family members and building an environment of trust and dependability.
- Cope with change by balancing stable roles and traditions with flexibility to change rules and share decisions that stimulate growth and health.
- Cultivate a protective environment in which family members actively contribute to the physical and emotional survival, safety, and selfesteem of each other and minimize risks that jeopardize healthy development.
- Develop healthy lifestyles and encourage coping skills within individual members. Resilient individuals contribute to the "whole" by demonstrating the following traits:
- Insight: seeing things as they really are and not being afraid to ask questions.
- Independence: becoming one's own person and not caught up in being someone else.
- Healthy Relationships: connecting with peers and friends in ways that build self-worth and belonging.
- Initiative: developing interests, talents, confidence and leadership abilities.
- Humor: willing to laugh at self and with others.
- Creativity: using art, drama, writing, sports, etc. to express one's uniqueness.
One message that comes from research is that "no man is an island." Therefore, we must remember that families need supportive, caring relationships to strengthen their ability to "bounce back" from crisis situations and events.
Reprinted with the permission of Clemson University. © 2008 Clemson University.
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