1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
You might have noticed the term resilience being used more and more frequently lately. It can be found virtually everywhere these days, from science to economic policy to—as we’re primarily interested here, of course—parenting.
With roots in ecology, the concept of resilience as a theory—as something deserving rigorous study—was first introduced to me around 2009 while I was an editor at the science magazine, Seed. As resilience theorist Carl Folke wrote in an essay for us at the time, “Loosely defined, resilience is the capacity of a system—be it an individual, a forest, a city, or an economy—to deal with change and continue to develop. It is both about withstanding shocks and disturbances…and using such events to catalyze renewal, novelty, and innovation…” Heady stuff with a really simple foundation: understanding what gives something—or someone—the ability to bounce back.
One year ago, I came on board as the editor here, and our publisher Cindy Mironovich reintroduced me to the concept. In this sphere, resilience is, in a nutshell, about fostering a child’s ability to bounce back from any number of childhood shocks and disappointments. Bullying. Loneliness. Peer pressure.
How can parents raise resilient kids? One such ingredient is a strong family narrative, as examined in this issue’s feature story. I hope you’ll agree that there is no better time to begin a year-long examination of this topic than the holidays. Thanksgiving offers us a chance to relive memories and create new ones, and to further traditions that ultimately foster the sense of resilience in our children.
As I write this, one of those Facebook memes pops up in my feed: “Cousins are the first friends we have as children. No one understands your crazy family like your cousins do.” I look forward to seeing my cousins this holiday season, and to my kids seeing theirs. Family is the tie that binds, and can help make us stronger individuals.
Happy Thanksgiving to your family from ours.