Resilience

There's been much talk lately about ways individuals can build resilience. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness currently the most discussed.

Aren't we ignoring the elephant in the room?

Aren't parents who engage in parenting behaviors and practices generally recognized as supporting their children's healthy development the most important and most powerful source of a child's resilience?  And if this is the case shouldn't we be figuring out how to make better parents?

Probably the most resilient person I'm aware of is Elizabeth Smart.  Kidnapped at 14 and raped daily for months this young woman has recovered and seemingly thrives.  Why?  She comes from a Mormon family and they are well known for their terrific parenting.

It seems like there's a sacred contract between a child and its parents that involves among other things love, protection, and nurture.  When the contract is intact the child is usually quite resilient.  When parents fail to love, protect, and nurture their child the contract is broken and the child experiences a horrible kind of betrayal that cripples their resilience and twists them into creatures that often harm themselves and others.

Ms. Smart was abused by a stranger, not her loving parents.  Is this why she's been able to recover and thrive?

All this begs the question...Why aren't we working furiously to figure out ways to improve the quality of parenting in communities?

Advancing Parenting is one organization that is doing just that.  Visit advancingparenting.org to read about what we do, why we do it, and our plans for the future.

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It so happens  that I had a career as a screenwriter (films) prior to having kids.  I am very interested in these kinds of ideas. 

I am working on a few things like this -- creative ways to portray positive parenting -- and specifically, the way that  Emotional Self Regulation arises naturally within the dyad *from being externally co-regulated* by one's parent.  The more you calm your baby, soothe your baby-- by connecting with them emotionally and addressing their distress-- the calmer that child will be as an adult.  That's a very simple principle.  

Another really simple one is that babies worn on the body and carried do better.  (See NIH -James W Prescott.)   In one study the rate of secure attachment in a vulnerable population of new Moms was *doubled* when mothers were given a soft carrier and told to use it daily. 

Primates need the neurological stimulation of movement/carrying.  Babies currently have a lot of crib/chair/stroller time-- much of it can be sling time.  The vestibular system is the most operational at birth and through movement, (plus bouncing, rocking etc ... we all know how much babies love this) other areas of the brain develop better.

Mary Beth Colliins posted:

I agree with others here. While we know that ACEs aren't fatalistic, and only portray risk of vulnerability and need, parents influence and advocacy is a strong contributing factor to the health of a child. But it is critical to always remember that because we are talking about inter generational issues when talking about ACEs, we are talking about parents who were once children who may have not received the support and services necessary to heal. They are living what they know and believe. This is the unfortunate paradox, because as you say parents are " the most important and most powerful source of a child's resilience."  Interrupting ACEs is a family affair and it is very possible they can recover together, with appropriate support and services.

This is why our Celebrating Families! program -an evidence based, trauma sensitive, whole family recovery program - is so impactful. We are exploring its efficacy with other ACEs because outcomes regarding healing, communication skills, and mental health when addiction is an identified concern has consistently been strong.  Additionally we have prepared MOUs for sites who wish to use the structure of the program to strengthen parental skills and empower parents to build resiliency in their children.

Great program! I shared an early iteration of it with treatment centers for mothers in recovery in Atlanta after NaCOA’s president and CEO, Sis Wenger, shared it with me years ago. That program and the NACoA program for communities of faith? They are both excellent. If they are not highlighted on the ACEs Connection site in Resources and in ACEs in the Faith Based Communities, will you share or post links, Mary Beth? 

Vincent J. Felitti, MD posted:

Improving parenting on a population basis would mean improving the parenting skills of 30-40 million young adults.  It would probably best be done by story-telling and depiction on broadcast television in a serial presentation.

Does anyone have thoughts of who would be capable and interested script writers for such a serial product, and who would provide capable psychological backup and producer/director  ability for such a project?

Imagine if we could have a musical about parenting and education with the power and popularity of “Hamilton?”

And if Disney and the creative geniuses at some of the other animation studios worked to tell these stories. Such a good example of a start was the animated, brilliant, and popular film “Inside Out” — explaining human emotions — several years ago. It “starred” Amy Poehler. 

I agree, Dr. Felitti. The world of the arts and movie-making could take on this topic and do a world of good. Including the world of rap singers. Imagine a national contest for little kids to write wrap songs about loving their parents, or self-regulation, or learning, or school as a safe place, and their being an online place the songs could be shared?
This could be a fun, entertaining, and maybe even viral part of the movement!  It could have as a part of it some of the Positive Childhood Experiences Dr. Christina Bethell of Johns Hopkins talks about as being vitally important to long-term life and health outcomes. 

Thanks for sparking the thoughts this morning, and asking about this in a safe place to share dreams and ideas. 

I agree with others here. While we know that ACEs aren't fatalistic, and only portray risk of vulnerability and need, parents influence and advocacy is a strong contributing factor to the health of a child. But it is critical to always remember that because we are talking about inter generational issues when talking about ACEs, we are talking about parents who were once children who may have not received the support and services necessary to heal. They are living what they know and believe. This is the unfortunate paradox, because as you say parents are " the most important and most powerful source of a child's resilience."  Interrupting ACEs is a family affair and it is very possible they can recover together, with appropriate support and services.

This is why our Celebrating Families! program -an evidence based, trauma sensitive, whole family recovery program - is so impactful. We are exploring its efficacy with other ACEs because outcomes regarding healing, communication skills, and mental health when addiction is an identified concern has consistently been strong.  Additionally we have prepared MOUs for sites who wish to use the structure of the program to strengthen parental skills and empower parents to build resiliency in their children.

Have said it for years: we need to start teaching basic parenting and self-care skills in pre-kindergarten. Then reinforce those skills each and every year. Now I would recommend, too, adding in self-regulation skills as taught in the Community Resiliency Model (kids love these skills of “getting in their zone,” “pushing against a wall,” and such). I believe that in just one generation of this teaching the reality of parenting and respect for the role would increase, as could compassion, empathy, social emotional learning, overall health.

Children love to act and play roles. Having them play act parenting based on Conscious Parenting or some other widely accepted program would begin to ingrain basics of self awareness and consciousness of how one’s behavior influences others’. It could make common practice of children knowing non-violent ways of preventing dangerous behavior, of “using our words” and modeling sanity in parenting instead of spanking it hitting. 

If we could also elect people who support policies that show respect for parenting, including paid parental leave, wrap-around services that give mothers and fathers time and a safe, secure, supportive environment in which to bond with their baby and each other in these new roles, and ensure proper healthcare, nutrition and safe, stable housing? In one generation I would imagine a reduction in domestic violence, child abuse and somatic illnesses and resulting emergency room visits,  mental health problems,  suicides, incarcerations, damage to property, and more, showing that this social program would more than pay for itself. This investment in public health would likely show a high positive return on investment if you track over the years the reduction in cancer, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and hospital visits as the result of alcoholism, drug addiction, and adrenalized risky behaviors associated with scores of three or more  on the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) survey. 

Let’s invest in one generation in this way of teaching parenting and self-regulation throughout school years, beginning in pre-K,  and see rewards of kids being able to reach their full potential! In just a few years their confidence and creativity could be unleashed to solve all manner of world problems in imaginative, innovative ways. Unhindered by shame, blame, guilt, and fear, lifted up by compassion, understanding, acceptance and awareness, this generation of kids could lead to, as it’s been written in ACEs Connection presentations,  a world “focused on solutions, not problems.”  

Imagine? 

It could so be reality! 

I came across a very interesting PCIT parent child interaction therapy being offered to parent child dyads in autism therapies at Baptist Health South Florida.

It consists of individual real time coaching in parenting in this condition.  Though not geared towards ACEs, may have scripts that may work.

Their 2 hour webinar may be archived.

that may be a resource you can look into. 

Good luck.

Improving parenting on a population basis would mean improving the parenting skills of 30-40 million young adults.  It would probably best be done by story-telling and depiction on broadcast television in a serial presentation.

Does anyone have thoughts of who would be capable and interested script writers for such a serial product, and who would provide capable psychological backup and producer/director  ability for such a project?

Thanks for your post, David. I would say that most of the 38,000 people in this network are working furiously to improve quality of parenting in a myriad of different ways, some direct, some indirect, but all contributing to healing individuals, families, organizations, systems and communities. Addressing all these parts make a difference in helping parents.

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