First Starts of Life
Part one: Coming into the world
Part two: Going out into the world.
Welcome to a new year. 2024, here we go!
For decades, instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I would take a word and devote the year to that one word. I would read, contemplate, and study research related to that one word. The year I named my business, I devoted that year to exploring compassion.
This year, I will devote my blog writing to exploring resiliency. What does sleep have to do with this? Everything. Quality sleep is at the foundation of being a resourced human being, and we must be resourced to access our resilience. Therefore, learning healthy sleep habits is part of the foundation of resiliency.
If I had one wish when I started as a parent, it would have been raising strong, capable, and resilient children. Finding the RIE® Approach at the beginning of our parenting practice was a stroke of luck.
What are some of the qualities that contribute to a resilient person?
- Emotional regulation
- Social support – They surround themselves with good people
- Adaptive coping skills
- Manage stress by focusing on self-care and well-being.
- Clear Thinking.
- Can entertain multiple perspectives.
- Embodied – They don’t get stuck in their heads and have a good sense of Interoception. Interoception is a lesser-known sense that helps you understand and feel what’s happening inside your body.
- Firm yet flexible boundaries.
- They practice acceptance and can handle disappointment.
- Mistakes and even failures do not stop them
- Knows how to ask for help. When bad shit goes down, they enlist their team of good people/social support.
- Communication skills
- Positive attitude
- Sense of agency and know what is within their control and beyond it.
- Activities of interest that include challenging the edge of their growth curve.
- Optimism and healthy skepticism
- Can handle reality
My intention is to help families with Part One – growing up in a family that prepares children with the resilience needed for Part Two.
As I make this transition from active “parenting” to more of a “consultant parent” with rigor, humility, and skepticism (the qualities of a good social scientist), I hope to share what I have learned in this practice I took on over two decades ago.
Were we successful? My children are now 20 and 22, and I would say so far so good. Yes, they are continuing to develop these qualities. And yet, we never know what the world will hand our children once they leave the protection of youth. Both of them know that college is still a preparation for reality, not real life.
One thing we can’t give our children is experience. They will go out and have their own. Experience proves that reality tends to crush some of these qualities listed above. Therefore, we can’t know the strength of any given item until it has been tested. Like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, we can’t know how much optimism will survive the inevitability of pessimism. Or how much acceptance will remain after an unacceptable loss.
Today, I wave goodbye to my daughter as she heads off to London for a semester abroad. I have already bid my son farewell for his final semester of college. I see them both as very resilient young adults. It is hard to be sad about our separation when I am so excited about their futures and what they are pursuing. They start with qualities that took me the better part of my life to cultivate. It was an expensive undertaking for their mother, both in therapy bills and mistakes.
Fortunately, I have a lot of people and circumstances to thank for raising these two humans to this starting point. Their parents were successful (thus far) because we had a lot of support. And their father and I knew what we lacked, and thankfully, we were both curious to find ways to fill in for what we could not know. I was honest with both of my children about my shortcomings. Humility might also be a quality of resilience. It certainly strengthens and deepens our relationships with ourselves and our beloveds.
Their father tirelessly searched for and pursued what was in their best interests, intellectually and physically. Family, friends, and community continue to influence who they are becoming. We surrounded ourselves with good people and a great team.
I will add that some of the biggest supporters in these lessons are what I would call “negative teachers.” These are the grownups in their lives that teach the opposite of the quality you want your child to learn. There is no better way to learn the entirety of something than to study its opposite.