Families are strong and flexible with resilience

Families who can cope with the stresses of everyday life, such as unemployment, poverty, and homelessness, as well as an occasional crisis, have resilience.

Resilience is the flexibility and inner strength necessary to bounce back when things are not going well.

Families with resilience are generally able to cope on their own, but multiple life stressors, like a family history of abuse or neglect, health problems, marital conflict, domestic or community violence, and financial problems can reduce a parent’s ability to cope effectively with the day- to-day stresses of raising children.

Families have inner strengths on which they can build resilience

These may include:

  • Faith
  • Flexibility
  • Humor
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Mutually supportive caring relationships
  • Ability to identify and access outside resources and services when needed

All of these strengthen the capacity to parent effectively.

Community services can sometimes help too

Here are resources available in most communities:

  • Mental health programs
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Family and marital counseling
  • Special education and treatment programs for children with special needs

Families with resilience know how to seek help in times of trouble. Their ability to deal with life’s ups and downs serves as a model of coping behavior for their children.

Sharing strategies and resources to promote parental resilience

When families identify and communicate what worries them most, there is an opportunity to offer some coping strategies and resources for dealing with stress. Families are not always aware how their ability to cope with stress may impact their parenting behaviors and their children’s development. Families should recognize that they can model coping behaviors for their children, since children observe and imitate families in many ways.

Empowering families to seek help and take steps to combat stress is part of building both resilience and hope. Some needs are obvious to all family members and to providers. Other needs, such as marital counseling or substance abuse treatment, may become apparent when one family member expresses concern about another. Partnering with the family includes helping all family members translate their concerns into specific needs that can be discussed and resolved.

Many community resources and services are available to help families cope. These may include:

  • Faith communities
  • Self-help groups and social service agencies can help families and caregivers develop problem-solving and communication skills that strengthen their ability to deal effectively with crisis, so they can continue to provide for their children.