What makes a resilient family? According to Dr. Froma Walsh, it’s about the family being able to “withstand and rebound from disruptive life challenges, strengthened and more resourceful.” In more practical terms, it can be a little trickier to define. Perhaps it’s best to imagine a time you’d call a low point in your life. These difficulties also challenge your family.
Family resiliency might show up in the form of sticking together. More than that, despite your differences, you emerge stronger from the tough experience. This sounds great but it does not happen by accident. You must work your way there together — especially when things are going smoothly.
2 Types of Traits
1. Risk Traits
As the name implies, these traits will hamper a family’s ability to persevere during stressful times. Examples include:
- Low individual self-esteem
- Inherited health issues
- Having to live in a home with substance violence or domestic abuse
There are many more possibilities but they can all impact a family’s collective skills at navigating negative situations.
2. Protective Traits
Conversely, protective traits are the tools that families can employ when faced with a crisis. They are also underlying sources of strength, e.g. autonomy, sense of humor, and self-awareness. As you’re about to see, these traits will not make you immune to problems. But they can make you more resilient when dealing with them.
4 Protective Traits of A Resilient Family
1. Shared Values
A happy family interacts with love, honesty, and respect. They share such values and are buttressed by them.
Family members nurture and support each other. Most importantly, they work to find out what each person needs and meets them where they are.
3. Flexibility and Conflict Resolution
Life is unpredictable. Within a family, there are too many factors to consider. Therefore, each member must accept sudden changes. When these changes do cause issues, focus on flexibility, as opposed to shame and blame, will help guide you to a healthier resolution of the conflict.
4. Asking For and Giving Help
The resilient family is an interactive support system. Each member is comfortable asking for help. Each member is just as ready to offer help.
How to Work Your Way There Together
Don’t Let Your Guard Down When Things Are Going Well
Respond to each other’s good news with excitement and interest. It’s easy to imagine resiliency as being solely about rallying in a time of crisis. However, families need support and solidarity in times of celebration, too.
Prioritize Action Over Panic
Lead by example when something bad happens (or appears to happen). Don’t default to catastrophic thinking. Instead of being guided by your emotions, work together to take purposeful action.
Leverage Your Strengths
It can be a fun family project to make a list of your collective strengths. Recognizing these qualities makes it easier to call on them when you hit a bump in the road.
Take Positive Risks and Learn From Them
Life is more enriching when comfort zones are challenged. Encourage such risks but talk about them as a family first. Make it clear that you will all be there for the person taking the risk — regardless of how it turns out. Afterward, talk together to identify what was learned and how to bounce back, if necessary.
Sometimes, You Need an Outside Perspective
Family therapy is an ideal setting for working on this project of resiliency. It’s possible that one family member will feel more comfortable speaking up in therapy. You may also have some blind spots that a skilled counselor can help expose. The idea here is that everyone can benefit from an outside perspective. Family therapy, therefore, can be a giant step toward family resiliency.
Getting Family Help in the Denver Area
If you are experiencing relationship issues, we invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with a therapy specialist or click to learn more about our parent coaching services.
We have offices in Lakewood CO & Longmont CO and also do teletherapy.
Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY