Family Matters #1: Building Resilience in Adversity
By Lucia Ferrara
Note: Last fall, Precious Blood Renewal Center joined with a few community partners to present a series of Parent Cafes, with the aim of supporting families and equipping them with skills for successful parenting. Read more about the Parent Café here.
“We’re not telling people what to do or how to be good parents,” I said at the time we started the project. “The café draws on the wisdom that is found in all of us. Finding that wisdom and being able to share it with others — sharing in each other’s wisdom — that’s how the café works.”
Until we can gather again in the same physical space, we’ll be sharing resources for families on our website and social media platforms.
In the times we are living through, we face many challenges. Whether we are parents, teachers, healthcare workers or teenagers, we are living under many environmental stresses.
These stressors could include things like not being able to visit our friends or go on a scooter ride. Maybe it’s not being able to have coffee or tea at your favorite café without worrying about how close you get to people! Maybe it is a health issue, work, unemployment, or financial trouble you are dealing with.
These are just a few of our realities lately. Covid-19 pandemic has certainly brought a lot of people to our knees.
For me, it’s been a time to reflect on my personal response to all the turmoil happening around me. Children look up to us parents as models of how to cope and take care of themselves during stressful times. I look to lessons we’ve learned in our Parent Cafes to help us through these times.
In the Parent Café, we talked about five protective factors that strengthen families. One factor that is especially relevant now, I think, is Parental Resilience, which includes being flexible and strong during times of trauma or adversity.
Resilience offers us the process of managing our stress and functioning well in life’s challenges. In building Parental Resilience, we need to ask ourselves a few questions in order to recognize your stressors and how to cope. For example, think of a time when you lost your patience with your child. How did you feel? Was anyone there to help? What helps you cope with everyday life? These are times when we need extra support systems. As parents we need to seek ways to survive and regain our ability to keep pressing on. When we take care of ourselves our children will see us as models of how to cope. There are a million ways to take action. Some ways to manage this is through meditation, journaling, reading a book, or going for a walk.
For me, I start to find within myself the strength and courage needed to meet my challenges and manage my levels of stress through focusing exercises. Focusing exercises offers me a way to identify what is taking up space in me and I spend my energy caring for those issues. This also may help parents bounce back from whatever is overwhelming you. This also can be done with our children, which will teach them resistance skills throughout life.
My colleague, Kathy Keary, has a series of articles and videos that explain more about Focusing. You can find those here.
I look forward to starting this conversation about making families stronger. If you have questions or comments, please send me an email or leave a comment on Facebook.
[Lucia Ferrara, the director of hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions at email@example.com.]