By Lindsey Ervin, MS and Tess Cox, MA
“Relationships also help build resilience across childhood and into adulthood. The single most common factor for children and teens who develop the capacity to overcome serious hardship is having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or another adult.” – Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
As fellow moms and Co-Founders of The Family Strong Blueprint, our hearts are for you, and we want to offer you some encouragement during this challenging time. We know parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. Now more than ever, this is so true. As our teens join us at home to begin online learning, they will demand our attention, our skill sets, our ability to grow and adjust to this situation. Our loving presence is a key factor in their ability to rise above and overcome. And, we will indeed need to lead ourselves well. Leading well includes our ability to regulate our own emotions and engage a healthy mindset.
We know through current research, strength and resiliency require us to grow softer or more gentle with ourselves. Resiliency is more about how we rest and reflect than how we endure. Author and therapist Aundi Kolber reminds us we don’t have to live in survival mode. We can “have the tools, resources, and support we need to embrace the goodness. To see the people right in front of us.”
Resilience is born out of the courage to look within, to listen to our hearts and to stay engaged to ourselves and others.
The softer we approach ourselves and our teens during this season will, in turn, create more strength and resilience for the family. It may sound like the opposite in a “try harder” culture, but we know resilience is a matter of tuning in to ourselves – our feelings and mindset, rather than forcing outcomes and “trying harder” which in fact creates more resistance and disengagement rather than resilience. We need healthy “togetherness” in families now, perhaps more than ever. We understand these are challenging times within every family system, our communities, the United States, and globally. You are probably holding an unusual tension psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually during this time.
Growth isn’t harsh. It is soft; it’s a process, “it is a beautiful combination of grit and grace.” – Second Journey
How have you engaged with your teen lately? If you find yourself reacting to your teen out of fear or frustration, we understand. If you find yourself emotionally charged or feeling defeated within your relationship with your teen, we get this, too. Perhaps, what can be helpful is deconstructing a “fixed mindset,” in order for you to construct a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset is a healthy and sound mindset, which provides benefit, calm, and hope for the most difficult of situations. A growth mindset supports the expanse of our capacity to engage with our teen (on varying and different levels) according to their needs.
Confidence and stability will come as we expand and are willing to grow during this challenging season. Being mindful of the way we are feeling and thinking will increase our courage, resilience and hope.
Our healthy mindset is key to every choice we make, both internally and externally. We know, choosing a healthy and grateful mindset is a daily choice and at times, an hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute choice, especially when it comes to our emotional responses. Constructing a healthy growth mindset will produce healthy outcomes for our families. So, how do we “try softer” with our emotions and mindsets vs. white-knuckling it through this?
Gratitude will be committed to creating stability, which in turn supports resilience.
Recent neuroscience tells us gratitude can help us cope in the most difficult of situations. Gratitude creates an “engaged mindset” – courage, resilience, potential, hope and respect” – The Family Strong Blueprint.
A growth mindset of gratitude supports changing our internal narrative and external stories that we communicate – whether they are physical, emotional, spiritual, relational or work/school related stories.
And gratitude grows softly. What we focus on grows. And, you guessed it, resilience is the outcome.
So how do we cultivate more gratitude? A simple, practical gratitude exercise I love to use with students and parents called, “Three Blessings.” This comes out of Martin Seligman’s research. You will need to be relaxed, mindful of your day and in a quiet place. The recommendation is to do this right before you go to bed and is scientifically proven to increase feelings of well-being.
“Three Blessings” Exercise:
1. Think about 3 blessings from today
2. Write them down in a journal or notebook
3. Reflect on why they happened
We pray you will find yourself “trying softer” these days, embracing a healthy mindset by focusing on and practicing gratitude. I am reminded of Jesus’s invitation for us to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him – for He is meek and lowly in heart: and we shall find rest for our souls. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-20). May your time with your teen today and in the weeks ahead be filled with confidence as you lead yourself well with a grateful, gentle heart.
Lindsey and Tess
Parent Coaches and Consultants / Co-Authors of The Family Strong Blueprint
Interested in helping your family become “Family Strong?” The Family Strong Blueprint book offers tools and resources to support your engagement with your teen, and our parent coaching supports your continued growth. To learn more or to inquire about our remote coaching services, please visit our website!
Connect with Family Strong Blueprint:
The Family Strong Blueprint provides tools for families to create a healthy dialogue to build deeper meaning and connection with one another. Lindsey’s work with teens in the schools and Tess’s work with leaders in the business world have created the backdrop of their knowledge and experience of effective communication. Their unique approach provides parents and teens with practical ways to establish positive outcomes, security, attachment, emotional connection, a sense of belonging, and building trust.