One of the most common hot button words I hear dropped in sentences and conversations is “resiliency”.
With my interest in alternative living and lifestyles, the concept of resiliency seems to come up more and more. The term “resilience” can be defined as one’s ability or capacity to bounce back or recover from life’s trials and difficulties. Resilience can be as little as not sweating the small stuff, to as big as overcoming major life change like divorce or trauma.
The concept of resilience seems to go hand-in-hand with alternative living and lifestyles. From learning how to make your food from scratch, to forming strong bonds in your local community, and even free range parenting, these are all choices that some say contribute to resilience.
These types of lifestyles are not mainstream, and perhaps the suggestion is neither is resiliency.
I also hear many people talking about raising resilient kids. That has struck a chord with me, as a former child that grew up in the 1990’s, and learned to fend for myself at a young age. I was the epitome of a latch-key kid, and my childhood independence and adolescent downward spiral is what has led to my present-day lifestyle choices.
I crave a simple schedule, and have ensured that I am available to my children by opting out of the typical 40-hour work week.
But will my choices and constant availability lead to less resilient kids?
Looking back on my past, I can say confidently that I was and am resilient. At 22-years-old a therapist once said I had the life experience of most 40-year-old women. I am not exactly proud of that, but I am confident that my life experience has shaped who I am today.
How then, do I raise resilient kids, while also keeping them safe and protected from this world? Is resiliency more important than safety? Would I rather shelter my children than have them live and learn?
I’m learning that it will be hard to raise kids that are empowered and independent if they’re constantly by my side. I can’t expect my kids to grow and make good choices if I am constantly hovering over them.
One of the greatest examples of this has been releasing my four-year-old each day, into a school I don’t know very well, with a teacher and students I don’t know at all.
I haven’t felt confident doing this, but over time I have learned it was the right choice. It took my daughter two days to find her friends and her voice at school. She hasn’t even been a student for a month and she is already eager to get to school each day, and go back the next day.
I feel confident that her independence has grown. As conflicts arise with friends I hope she will learn to make wise choices. I’m not there to settle every disagreement, and teachers don’t have the capacity to always be there.
One thing I am learning with certainty about raising resilient kids: all kids need a soft place to land when they return home. I can release my kids into the world, equipped with the knowledge I have given them, but I am always here to brush away tears and talk about their day.
I think resilient kids are made in loving and accepting homes, where tough topics are discussed regularly, and freedom to make mistakes and try again are encouraged.
My goal in raising kids that are resilient is to equip them to make tough choices on their own, but I also hope they know that some of life’s battles are too hard to fight alone.
What do you think? Is raising resilient children an important life skill?