Stories. What do stories have to do with resilience? The stories we know about ourselves and the stories we know about our family make a big difference. Our sense of connection to our inter-generational family helps us moderate the impact of stress. Weaving your own family narrative, it turns out, may not only increase the resilience and happiness in your own family but may mean that your family may thrive for generations to come.
As weird as it may sound, our children need to experience adversity to grow resilience. The sense of mastery that grows within a child having overcome challenges is one of their biggest sources of resilience. As parents we interrupt many of the opportunities our children have to develop mastery because we lose the distinction between danger (where it is our job to secure safety) and pain (where there is an opportunity for learning.) The drawers in my family medical office were fun to play with because they felt so good when they moved in and out. My young patients loved that feel so much I made sure that there was one drawer that held things that would not harm a child. Even though I okayed drawer play, parents often reacted quickly when their toddlers started pulling and pushing on the drawers for fear that their child might pinch some fingers.
One thing people with resilience have in common is a supportive network. You are your child’s first and most important “network of support.” You establish the ground from which they can learn, take risks, make mistakes and come back to safety. With solid ground beneath them children have more ability to overcome challenges.
Relationships matter. As human beings we have a deep pull toward being connected to each other. We learn about who we are in the context of social connections and those social connections change the way our brain grows neurons which, in turn, influences the way we interpret and respond to the world around us.