Thursday, August 06, 2009


One of the common denominators of non-profit groups in our community is that many of them plan their annual fund raising around a luncheon at our local historic hotel. The table host may or may not buy the guests' meals, but whether or not they do, they then invite their "bring along your checkbook friends." I attend at least six of these events for varied causes throughout the year; I find it a pleasant way to contribute to worthy causes for three reasons -
1. It is clearly understood (after attending the first one) that this is a fund raising event; I think one is allowed one free pass for not having a checkbook open and ready throughout the meal.
2. Luncheons are tasty and do not exceed one and a quarter hours.
3. The fundraising planners have a history of engaging extraordinary speakers with topics appropriate to the fundraiser's goals.

It is point #3 that is the kicker for me - I am never disappointed that I've attended one of these events and Tuesday's fundraiser for our local Camp Fire USA was no exception. The speaker was Jan Faull, M.Ed. who has taught Parent Education for more than twenty-five years. A resident of Seattle and writer of four books on parenting and childhood issues, Ms. Faull gave a compelling talk on the education and nurture of children into a category of resilient children.

Resilient children meaning those who can adapt to new environments more readily rather than adversely. Ms. Faull named the environments in which children find themselves alone (even while with their parents, it's a new experience for the child) for the first time - a church service, a restaurant, nursery school, grade, middle, high school, the death of a grandparent, the loss of a friend, a concert, a movie theater, a social event with their parents, a family reunion, a visit to an divorced parent's home, etc. - all of these situations are at one point in time brand new to the child and the parents' comfort in exposing or simplifying their children to these situations either on purpose or out of necessity is critical to a child's ability to adapt resiliency as a character trait throughout their lifetime. Being brave and having a stiff upper lip may not be the formula to develop a resilient child. Discussing what's new, frightening, unfamiliar, and downright strange to a kid may take a short fifteen minute orientation or just good ol' listening from a parent about the child's fears. Assurance that the child is not strange in their feeling, it's o.k. to be frightened, angry, shy or sad. These moments can raise a child who trusts, one who does not shudder at all new events, one who might not understand the word resiliency but who grows up likely more comfortable in new environments. I do not do justice to the enthusiasm and evangelistic fervor of the speaker - she was extraordinary! If I was a young parent, I would not hesitate to investigate and follow all of her writings.

Not a young parent anymore, I feel comfortable knowing that instinctively, I suppose, I did raise resilient children and I see my offspring doing the same thing. But children are one thing and we adults are quite another............are we resilient in our environments? Did someone show us the way, introduce us to the rules of behavior for new experiences? Did we learn manners and trust from either our parents, teachers, maybe camp counselors? Do we still harbor the idea that we can solve our own problems, we don't need to talk them over with anyone, if we ignore uncomfortable situations in groups or even in one on one relationships that the stiff upper lip and bottled resentment or fear will be enough to carry us through on our own. Do we ignore invitations for assistance in time of trouble, or kindness in time of sorrow, or assume that we are the caregivers and need no care for ourselves? Well, do we? Have I, have you, have we ignored the ability to accept what our friends and even strangers will offer us as solace or aid in times of stress? Are we resilient enough to realize that we have been sent a treasure outside of our own selves to pat us on the back, pick us up, and maybe just relieve those chest pains or headaches, if only we could find the resilience to trust and be willing to accept what we're sure we don't need or deserve?

I hope Jan Faull will forgive my probably inadequate description of her phrase "resilient children" but her phrase "resilient children" I believe is so apt to those of us who are just now learning in life how important the trait of resilience is to our own well-being.

......and yes, I left a generous check for Campfire USA.


  1. This was gret to read! It left me thinking about how the church I serves helps--or hinders--children and parents from gaining great experiences of resilience.
    Thank you!

  2. Jennifer, Welcome. Thank you so much for your comment. I hope the thoughts about resilience will indeed be of help with your serving. Come back soon.

  3. i agree with jennifer "great to read". this line sums it up for me as parent, child, professional, wife, friend, you name it...

    "Assurance that the child (or adult) is not strange in their feeling, it's o.k. to be frightened, angry, shy or sad."

    isn't that what we all need to feel safe and thereby be resilient? a recent conversation with a "supportive" friend gave me the impression that my feelings were everything but o.k. "if she were me, she certainly wouldn't feel that way blah blah blah."

    i think the best we can do is listen and assure that feelings are feelings. we don't have to agree or understand. heck, i don't even understand why i feel what i feel, but affirmation and assurance goes a long way toward restoring (or teaching) resiliency. and i love your statement that part of resiliency is reaching out and letting another come alongside!!!

    well done, oh resilient one! xoxoxo

  4. Resilience is a quality that allows an object to resume its authentic shape after being bent out of shape. I imagine that in human nature it is the quality that allows a person to resume their authentic self after having endured events that challenged their self confidence. Resiliency is what enabled the writing of Psalm 23. I wonder how it is that so many of us have resiliency pounded out of us by well meaning parents, teachers, mentors and friends who are only interested in protecting us, teaching us to keep a stiff upper lip, or imbuing us with fear of the new or different?

  5. Lucy and CP -

    I value your comments so very much! Thank you!