Inner strength is an important skill that parents should model for their children. I have some practical tips on how to do this in your family.
Inner strength, often called “resilience,” is the ability to cope with the stressful situations that life throws at us. Building inner strength begins with simple actions or thoughts that your child practices, such as planning for what to do next and learning to accept change. (Source)
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Last weekend, my seven-year-old daughter and I watched An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win.
Set in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement, “An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” examines the joyful life and troubled times of an irrepressible 10-year-old African-American girl whose vivid imagination and creativity reinforce her optimism.
When shocking national events threaten her sense of security, Melody must find inner strength to restore her hope for a better world.
While we watched the movie, I asked my daughter questions like “what is inner strength,” “was that a nice thing for that girl to say?” and “how do you think that made Melody feel?”
These questions opened an important dialogue between us. Although she is much younger than Melody, it opened my eyes that kids are very smart. She understood everything that was going on and grasped how certain body language and undertones still made people feel bad.
It just confirmed that we’re not born predisposed to having certain feelings; rather, we learn them.
I paused to think about how I model those same behaviors for my kids. How do I model inner strength?
Resilience During Unemployment
About four years ago, I was suddenly laid off from my job of five years. In 18 years of working, I had NEVER been laid off (or fired). In a nutshell, I had ALWAYS worked. So, to say the least I was surprised and in shock.
Unemployment can be one of the most financially devastating, emotionally draining, and patience-creating challenges you will ever endure. During that time, I focused on these things:
Re-frame your feelings. Try to learn something from this experience. What positive things have happened as a result of your employment? Think experiences, skills, references, friends, etc.
Ask yourself questions like, “what would I have done differently?” or “what life lessons or character traits do I need to work on?”
Resilience During Death
Between November 2014 and November 2015, I lost my great-aunt, my maternal grandmother, my great-uncle, my paternal grandmother, and my uncle. That’s five people within one year!
I focused on honoring their memories with my children. We looked at old photo albums and remembered all of the great times we all had. I encouraged them to speak about their feelings and let them be as open with me as they wanted. We stuck together and got through it.
Resilience After Pregnancy Loss
I have lost two babies. One the year before my son (who is now 14) was born and another the year before my daughter (who is now seven) was born.
My son experienced that second loss, too. We had talked about my pregnancy, preparing him to be a big brother, and had given our unborn baby a name.
It was an experience I didn’t know he was affected by until he started asking me questions one day.
This reaffirmed to me the importance of open lines of communication with my children. Throughout all of these experiences, we had to draw deep to accept the things that were happening to us.
We had to allow ourselves to experiences those emotions (no matter how much they hurt or made us angry), make a plan to overcome the challenges, and keep faith that things would turn around.
In the end, I have been happily employed in a new industry that I LOVE (for nearly five years) that has led me to opportunities like this blog, we have many more good days than bad days as we remember our lost loved ones, and I have two healthy children (and an amazing husband!) who are all the loves of my life.
It’s empowering to know you’re in control of your own actions. That’s ultimately the legacy I strive to leave my children with and hope they remember that as they move into adulthood.
“Part of survival is accepting that you cannot change outside circumstances or people, it is imperative to accept and feel empowered by the realization that you can transform yourself. It’s a super power. Yes, you can!” (Source)
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