Balancing It All: Your Family’s Resilience
It seems that just as the excitement of one holiday season ends and things start returning to normal when another holiday season is upon us. For most families, accommodating the complexities of the holidays includes tightly-coordinated schedules, specific meal menu arrangements, explicit child or carpool pickups/drop-offs, and time-sensitive organizing, managing, or supervising the unique, seasonal activities – moments that easily challenge a families’ status quo, but things quickly return to normal in the in-between times. Imagine, however, if everyday for your family was similar to the most hectic days of the holiday season. Variety families typically assume such status quos year-round, engaging calculated and specific day-to-day considerations, as family units endeavor remaining stable and least-hassled, admirably perpetuating everyday activities that rival final arrangements for [wikipop]NASA[/wikipop] space shuttle launches. How do Variety families successfully balance daily operations? Researchers credit success of achieving that balance to family “resilience.”
Family resilience is described as a families’ ability to recover or rebound from adversity, and adapt to change while demonstrating competence in the face of unknown risks – a process that, in and of itself, strengthens families, helps them cope, and enhances their resourcefulness. According to C. Amber Havens of the National Center on Disability, families incurring atypical challenges exercise resilience when they use their special circumstances to cushion impacts on them and maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Families of children with atypical situations face continual challenges often due to the families’ lack of control; the dance of egos, attitudes, anger, and embarrassment; financial strains; and protectiveness, all of which can drive the family into a “state of chronic stress or crisis”1.
Optimum “resilient” family lifestyles negotiate and overcome insurmountable tensions and pressures. Led by parents committed to maintaining their robust physical and mental health (proven immeasurably helpful in ameliorating everyday demands), they endure significant odds in managing daytime-to-evening events in their quest to provide a stable, loving home and family system. Their lifestyle philosophy vows to keep them moving forward and thriving as a family, working toward desired futures while building productive, spirited lives. Helpful to achieving such, Havens offers 6 considerations, explained in brief:
- Family members involved in providing for a child’s special needs must consistently practice giving, receiving, and sharing information (communicate), invaluable in educating and understanding how best to assist the child and teach others.
- Parents are advised to make time for each other – as man and wife, beyond “dad and mom.” Experts contend this to be key for keeping the marriage intact and healthy.
- Valuable tools to coping and learning, and to best prevail over the emotions, attitudes, and feelings among family members, include individual and group counseling, along with support groups of people who have similar experiences and participate in disability information networks.
- Keep perspective, as emotions run strong and feelings become confusing. Juggling feelings of anger, protectiveness, and love should be recognized, along with remembering that things could be worse.
- Embrace respite. Time away from pressures helps you, and the child with special needs, as well.
- Play! Organized recreation and leisure experiences allow family members to creatively express themselves. This builds family unity and esteem of individual members and of the collective family.
Strengthening and thriving – congratulations to your resiliency.
- C. Amber Havens, “Becoming a Resilient Family: Child Disability and the Family System”, National Center on Disability, February 11, 2009 [↩]
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