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Resilience and Hope

Resilience and Hope: A Lesson from the Children of Ukraine

It does not take long, when watching the news or reading a paper, to come across the word “resilience.”

Today alone I heard it in connection to children transitioning away from wearing masks in school, to a United States Supreme Court nominee handling questions from grandstanding lawmakers, and to the entire country of Ukraine.

Building Resilience

At Kids First, we even added “Resilience” to our name. Building resilience is a “thing.” But as with many words, I worry that “resilience” is losing its meaning with overuse. In describing everything with variations of this term, do we risk missing what we are talking about, especially in the context of co-parenting?

And what about the reasons for needing all this “resilience” in the first place; are we collectively complacent with children being vulnerable? Is the “it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" mentality so engrained in our culture that we do not see the injustices that many must endure?

I do not have the answers to these questions, but watching the events unfold in Ukraine should be a reminder to us all that avoiding trauma is a much better strategy than overcoming trauma. For me, the gap between “avoiding” and “overcoming” is where justice—and sadly, injustice—lives.

Defining Resilience

In the Center’s foundational program, The First Step, we say, “Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.”

We must add war to the list. Big wars like in Ukraine and small wars like in our families. Asking children to adapt well to war in any form is—or should be—heartbreaking and unthinkable.

Fortunately many, if not most, co-parents do NOT ask their children to adapt to war within the family. They figure it out. They believe to do otherwise is unthinkable. Others need help to understand the consequences that their conflict has on their children. Still others are in the space of, “Acting first, and asking for forgiveness later.”

The Kids First Center is here for all these parents. The Center’s mission is not to shame, but to shine light on the simple hope that all parents share: that their children grow up happy and healthy.

At Kids First, Resilience is a Verb.

It connects the hope for health and happiness with the actions of making that happen, despite the possible co-parenting challenges that many must overcome. Hope for justice is never ending, and the essence of resilience is hope. Let us honor the children of Ukraine and learn the lesson in our own homes that it is unjust to ask children to adapt well to conflict.

- Timothy Robbins, Esq.
  Executive Director

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