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Intern: A real look at parental resilience

April 11, 2016

By: Taylor Calley

"Resilience is the process of managing stress and functioning well even when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma ... Numerous researchers have concluded that how parents respond to stressors is much more important than the stressor itself in determining the outcomes for themselves and their children." - Center for the Study of Social Policy

Both of my parents have demonstrated resilience throughout my life. They have been through times of stress and crisis and have always managed to pull through for my siblings and me. The two of them have demonstrated resilience in their own way and because of that, my sisters and I were given our best chance.

After my parents’ divorce, they each took turns being single parents. The first four years, my mother was a single mom, raising three preteen girls… (Yikes!) She worked full time, home schooled one of my sisters and me, and made sure my youngest sister made it to school each day. On top of that, she also made sure that my older sister and I were able to attend our gymnastics practices – four hours a day, four days a week.

After keeping up with our demanding schedules while working long hours herself for almost two years, my mother decided to expand her family. She met a man, and had another child. Having a newborn and three teenage daughters took immense amounts of patience, courage, and determination. She bent over backwards to make sure all of our unique needs and interests were met, relying on my grandparents and even our gymnastics coaches as concrete supports! With everything she had on her plate, she still got out of bed every day and did all that she could to make her sure all four of her children were healthy and successful.

My father also exhibited parental resilience during that time. He made huge sacrifices for us girls, including moving away from us, where he knew he could work and make enough money to support us. However, he always made sure to come to our gymnastics competitions, no matter how far away they were. In order to do that, he worked long hours seven days a week as a carpenter. Not only did he work this hard to pay for gymnastics and competitions, but also in order for us to survive.

Four years later, he became a single dad. He went from seeing us girls once every couple of months to taking on three teenage daughters full time. If that isn’t parental resilience, I’m not sure what is! Looking back now, I can see just how much resilience my dad had during those four years when he had my sisters and me full time. He did it all without any help physically or financially, yet he never let us see how stressed he was. We never knew that he could barely afford to put food on our table or that he struggled to pay the bills. He ALWAYS put his daughters FIRST – even before himself. If there was money for anything extra, his girls got the extra, and he went without.

Having resilience is so important when raising a family. Life throws you curves (especially when you have three daughters) and my dad has taught me that you must learn not only to swerve, but sometimes you also have to bend, twist, scratch and claw to make it through! Both of my parents were able to draw from an inner strength and do everything in their power to raise successful children. I admire their strength, courage, and determination and could not ask for better parents.

Thank you Mom and Dad, for persevering through the toughest times and keeping your family safe and strong. I love you!

Taylor is a senior social work major at Plymouth State University. She is currently interning at NH Children’s Trust where she hopes to build her skills in child abuse and neglect prevention.

For more information on the Strengthening Families Framework and protective factors, go to