‘Parental Resilience’ is one of the ‘Five Protective Factors’ from the Strengthening Families Framework. First you may be asking, what is the Strengthening Families Framework? “The Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework is a national research-based initiative that aims to develop and enhance five specific characteristics (called protective factors) that help keep families strong and promotes optimal development of children.”
Over the next several months we plan on covering each one of the protective factors and sharing some of our personal stories related to them. ‘Parental Resilience’ is the first one we want to dive into, because it can mean so many things to so many people. For some it means how you are able to deal with difficult times, for others it might just mean finding that extra time for yourself to decompress, so that you’re refreshed and ready to be the best parent you can be.
The poster says “Exercise Flexibility & Develop Inner Strength = Resilience”, I like to say Resilience is like a rubber band; it’s how far you’re able to stretch and still bounce back, after a long day or a rough time. The story I’ve told when discussing the
‘Five Protective Factors’ with families was about my daughter’s journey through cancer.
Now don’t worry, it’s a happy story! She’s almost 14 now and more than seven years cancer free. When she was diagnosed the first time at four years old, things went smoothly. Chemo was finished in less than five months, and to be honest, after the first couple weeks we didn’t worry much. Nine months after she finished chemo they found a new tumor, and that’s when I worried. I didn’t sleep very well, and we spent a lot more time at the hospital. People asked us all the time, “How do you do it?” The truth was, we just did. I don’t know how we got through it, but the one thing I did for myself, that I swear kept me going during all those late nights when I couldn’t sleep, was playing Plants vs Zombies or Scrabble on the iPad. I know that sounds strange, but it helped me just shut my thoughts off and it helped me relax.
Another thing I swore by was taking a bath every afternoon, It was the only place the kids didn’t follow me! It was my quiet, happy place. I’d read in there, just sit and relax, but mostly had time alone. Parents need something; even if it’s just a game you love, 10 minutes in the bathtub, or joining a local moms group to be social….do it! You’ll be a better parent, and a stronger family for it.
If I didn’t take that bath every day or find a way to turn my thoughts off at night, I’m not sure my “rubber-band” would have been able to flex, eventually I would have broken, I had to find something to help distract me. Being a parent isn’t easy, it’s the hardest job you’re ever going to do. Having the ability to bend and not break will be one of the greatest skills you can develop for yourself and your family.
Vanessa Armstrong is one of our Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start. Before joining Lenawee Great Start, Vanessa worked as a photographer and served in the United States Air Force of 10 years. She is a Florida native who has been living in Tecumseh with her husband Sean and their 3 children, Keira, Cooper and Harper since 2010by