In the realm of resilience, Froma Walsh has laid the foundation for a comprehensive family resiliency framework, which serves as a guiding light for families navigating through seemingly insurmountable adversities. But what exactly is family resiliency, and how can this framework benefit your military family?
Resilience, simply put, is the capacity to emerge strong, healthy, and successful even in the face of adversity. It represents the process and outcome of skillfully adapting to life's challenges, encompassing mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects. Just like an object's original shape is restored after being stretched, bent, or pressed, resilience helps families bounce back from the trials they encounter.
What makes a military family resilient amidst the unique challenges of the military lifestyle? The answer lies in how both parents cultivate the family culture and manage family processes, as these are among the most significant contributors to a family's ability to withstand difficulties.
Froma Walsh presents nine "keys to resilience" within three distinct areas: family belief systems, family organization and resources, and family communication.
Family Belief Systems: The foundation of resilience begins with how families find meaning in crises and challenges. It involves fostering a sense of teamwork and camaraderie among family members who lean on each other during tough times. The way they perceive life plays a vital role in how they respond to circumstances. Viewing challenges with the belief that they can overcome them serves as a driving force for each family member. Even when moral values are tested, resilient families find common ground, staying true to their beliefs, and drawing nourishment and hope from them.
Family Organization and Resources: Building upon these beliefs, resilient families focus on specific areas such as flexibility, connection, and the support network they establish. In the midst of crises, they maintain certain roles and rules while allowing for flexibility in decision-making. Prioritizing what truly matters, creating a safe and supportive environment, nurturing connections, and keeping the health of relationships in mind are essential. They also recognize the importance of social and economic resources within their local community.
Family Communication: Resilient families share common communication styles, characterized by openness, directness, and a problem-solving approach. In military families, the challenge often lies in balancing the strong leadership displayed at work with the uncertainties at home. Effective communication between both parents is critical to clarify roles and strengths in leading the family as a unified team.
Building a resilient military family dynamic requires strong leadership skills from both parents. They must engage in open and direct discussions about each circumstance, always keeping the main goal in mind: preserving the health of their family relationships. This effort shapes a family culture that supports the idea that, no matter what challenges they face, they can weather the storm together.
Recap: MILITARY FAMILY RESILIENCE
Embrace strong leadership from both parents.
Prioritize personal well-being and the health of family relationships.
Foster a "team" mentality within the family.
Cultivate belief systems that emphasize finding meaning in every circumstance.
Recognize the perspectives of each family member and their role in the family's journey.
Establish a support network and access necessary resources.
Nurture a resilient culture within your home.
Questions to Ask:
When faced with a crisis, difficult situation, or change, what are your initial thoughts, and what do other family members think?
How would you describe the culture within your home?
Have you reached out to specific individuals or community leaders about your circumstances?
If you believe in God, how does a crisis impact your perception of how God sees you?
Prepared by: Patti Herman, Pam Peterson, and Jane Schaaf, Family Living Educators, UW-Extension, 2009.
Resource: Walsh, F. (2006) Strengthening Family Resilience (Second Edition). New York: The Guilford Press.