Lean on me is the title of a popular song by Bill Withers. It is also great advice for Recycled Moms and the children in their care. Indeed our little ones lean on us for love, support, life lessons and love. We are a huge oak tree in their eyes, one that stands strong and steady throughout storms. They know nothing of the tears we weep in the wee hours of the morning or the weariness that so often overtakes us.
Yet we continue on because this is a sacred journey, it is a pilgrimage and we sojourners on a path we never chose. How can we be strong for our little ones? We must have support. The tree in the photograph is leaning and it is hard to believe the thing remains upright. But it has roots that are anchored deep into the ground. Those roots are the support system.
One root we can grow is Parental Resilience. This is one of the five Protective Factors taught by child abuse prevention organizations. Life and child rearing is full of crisis and stress. Parents who are resilient and flexible have an inner core of strength, the ability to bounce back. I call it being a Weeble. Do you remember those little toys that fall over but immediately pop back up? The song was “Weebles wobble but don’t fall down.” That is the definition of Parental Resilience.
Few of us reach adulthood in one piece. Childhood stresses and crises such as abuse, poverty and the like often injure people so we become brittle and not resilient. Then the pressures of being the responsible person create more fractures in that fragile shell placed around our emotions. The ability to cope becomes further reduced when a person is faced with marital conflicts, employment issues, special needs children and a thousand other problems parents must deal with on a daily basis.
Learning about parental resilience and building a firm foundation on this protective factor increases the possibility of good outcomes for oneself and for the children in our care. How do we increase parental resilience? There are four basic levels:
- The Individual
- The Family
- The School
- The Community
While it optimally begins in childhood, parental resilience is often never established at that critical time but one must learn it while in the trenches of parenthood. Fostering positive attachments with children is a stepping stone to other strategies in coping. While teaching children to build resilience parents increase their own. Take time to:
- Eat Well
- Rest and Sleep Well
- Celebrate Milestones
- Sing and Play with Children
- Respond to Your Own Needs
- Make Friends
- Develop and Maintain a Daily Routine
- Remember You Do Many Things Right
- Keep a Journal (letting it all out on paper reduces stress)
There are many more ways to develop and grow parental resilience. Most of them connect with other Protective Factors. We will be discussing those in the next few weeks as I present a new Factor each week. Leave a comment with questions or requests for other information. Thanks. Have a great Recycled day!