Resilience is a word thrown around often when we talk about what our children need to survive and thrive in the world today. We can all acknowledge that life can be extraordinarily difficult and stressful, and we want to equip our children with the tools they need to achieve their dreams despite that harsh reality.
There are so many things that suggest that, as a society we are not coping well with the harshness and difficulties of this world. It can be seen in how stressed people are, in our health issues (mental and physical) and in what we turn to because we can’t cope. It is terrifying to witness the growing rates of childhood obesity, anxiety, depression, bullying and suicide. This begs me to wonder what I can do to prepare my children for the harsh realities that lie before them. To raise warriors instead of victims and to raise them to feel powerful in mastering their lives; despite its inevitable setbacks, difficulties and challenges.
I am starting with RESILIENCE!
As I have dived more deeply into resilience and what it looks like in my family, I have found some distinctions that make it even more powerful than I initially thought. Resilience is often seen as ‘toughing it out,’ which I believe does not give it justice. Yes, to be resilient in this world you have to embody the qualities of determination, persistence and raw grit. There are, however, 2 other things that give it true power.
- True resilience is what allows us to get up after we fall. It is about what happens after we have a difficult and challenging time. Resilience allows us to move onwards and upwards and it is the quality that turns failure into growth and learning. When we just ‘tough out’ a difficult situation we usually stop when it does. Resilience however is what allows us to dust ourselves off and continue on. The focus of true resilience is on recovery and rebuilding rather than on endurance and survival. It is the ability to keep going day after day, year after year; for as long as it takes to reach your goal.
- Our society is full of people who are ‘resilient’ but they are unhappy. This is a distinction worth considering. Think of the man or woman who has stuck at the same job for their whole life but has not experienced the joy of doing something they love. It is integral to determine what resilience will bring you and your children. I believe that the resilience worth embodying is the resilience that invokes you to passionately persevere at the things you love, every day, for a lifetime. There is no point being resilient in the face of doing something you do not love!
In my opinion… TRUE RESILIENCE IS THE ABILITY TO KEEP GOING IN THE FACE OF TURBULENCE, TO COME OUT THE OTHER SIDE AND TO CONTINUE ON IN THE PURSUIT OF SOMETHING YOU LOVE.
So, as a parent, what am I doing for my children?
I keep my heart and my mind open to the interests and passions of my children and those are the things that I use to empower resilience.
Kaizen loves all things sport. Playing footy has brought many situations when he has wanted to stop and give up. He has had challenges at school with other boys, he has had a bad game and he has had other things happen in his life that have overwhelmed him to a point that he has said he does not want to train. This is when I make a stand for him and what he loves. This is when I encourage him to stay firm and keep going, to never give up. This is when he learns true resilience.
Tuscany loves gymnastics. In the beginning moving up to the next level was very slow, she kept on getting told she wasn’t ready. There were moments when she wanted to quit. This is when I made a stand for her and what she loves, to stay and never give up. She loves to ride horses and had to persevere for months, as she slowly but surely became strong enough to move on to a larger pony. This is when she learns true resilience.
Cove has tried a few different things over the last couple of years; gymnastics, hip-hop and a couple of different circus classes. It has been a challenge to encourage him to keep going with these; he found them restrictive and boring. He wasn’t challenged much and was not able to move and express himself freely. I continued to ask what he would like to try. “I just want to do ballet, Mum!” was his common response to our discussions. For those that know this young boy, you will know that when he dances, you witness his soul. We have created a dance studio for him at home and he starts classes on Wednesday. While resilience incorporates a determination and perseverance to continue on in the pursuit of something you love, it also enables us to know when to change course and when to stop because something no longer serves us. It gives us the courage to change things. If I encouraged Cove to ‘tough’ it out, he’d be doing Circus classes this term. Because, however, true resilience is our focus he is dancing!
True resilience is difficult to nurture and build when we are trying to get our children to do something they are not interested in. While sometimes we have to do things we don’t like or want to do, I would not use these moments to encourage resilience. Essentially it is resilience that will be our children’s greatest armour in the world today, so let’s ensure it is there to serve their highest good. When your children are doing something that sets them on fire, there will be plenty of opportunities for building and nurturing true and lasting resilience.
Here’s to our children creating all that they love, despite any challenges they may face!!!