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Effects of Resilience and Hope on Parents

Resilience has always been a grounding factor for me. Growing up, I always had a maturity about how I respond to situations outside of my emotional wheelhouse. My mother encouraged this by talking about difficult topics with me and informing me on what is out in the world. I think resilience is grounding for me because my mother always said that we are all human and make mistakes. She believes that is what makes everyone the same: the fact that we can all make mistakes, but what matters is how you pick yourself up. I remember having these conversations with my mom over long car rides or on walks for ice cream, and it always made me feel important and respected. Since those days, I have always been especially empathetic toward people who seem to have gone through things to become more hopeful and positive.

This personal experience with resilience sparked my interest in it, especially with how it can relate to hope. I did some research to see whether there is a relationship between resilience and hope, and there is positive relationship between the two. Participants who were high in hope were typically high in resilience. After identifying this relationship, I wondered whether these two constructs can be considered protective factors for parents dealing with sick or disabled children.

Back to Basics Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It is a time-tested definition that many people know very well, but there is much for to the concept than at face value. There are two aspects involved in resiliency: exposure to risk and positive adaptation. In other words, this concept boils down to when someone responds better than expected to anything considered a “significant risk”. Hope relates to resiliency in that it includes these two types of thinking: pathway and agentic thinking. They work together to make you think about the success you will have (agentic thinking) from the various ways that you can attempt to meet your goals (pathway thinking).

A Deeper Look at Hope and Resilience as Protective Factors One of the studies I read by Bland and Darlington (2002) found that hope is essential to a family’s ability to cope and have positive expectations. Hope can help facilitate a family’s ability to cope and remain positive through the actions like communication, spirituality, and flexibility (Hellman et al., 2018). Communication helps people verbalize the feelings and goals that they have, that can motivate them to accomplish the goals. Spirituality can be helpful too, because it provides structure and goals to accomplish in the name of your devotion to your God. Spirituality can help kickstart the pattern of having goals and meeting them. Having spiritual goals can eventually bleed into other domains of like, like career goals.

Research suggests that childhood trauma is predictive of compromised health and wellness (Munoz, Hanks, and Hellman, 2019), but there was a literature gap surrounding hope and resilience as predictors of “psychological flourishing”, or optimal human functioning. This study conducted by Munoz, Hanks, and Hellman attempted to fill this gap by conducting a cross sectional study where adults between the ages of 18 and 64, with at least one childhood trauma experience, were asked to complete four surveys. The results of this study showed that hope and resilience are strong predictors of optimal human functioning.

While there are many research articles surrounding protective factors of parents and these constructs, it is important to encourage these discussions in junior high and high school classrooms. Discussing hope and resilience can not only reintroduce them to these concepts, it also fosters growth in these areas. A table in Hellman et al (2018) illustrates a way that someone can promote resiliency. The first step to regaining hope is to set goals. This act helps increase agency, but also helps start the motivation engine for longer term goals. Following that is identifying “viable pathways” or practical ways to go about accomplishing your goal. There is a focus to overcome barriers in this stage. The next step is to create future memories of success by reflecting on how they feel, the impact of it, and how they plan to behave. Once you have completed all these things, then you have nurtured hope back to life.

Taking this type of framework into the classrooms can help create a positive environment where students will flourish. According to an article by Rajan and Romate (2016), education is a protective factor of resilience. Setting up students both in and out of the classroom will not only make them more resilient, but it will hopefully also increase their level of hope too. In the same study, it was also found that parent education level affects resilience. I think the idea of school as a protective factor for resilience and hope stems from the skills taught in that environment. From primary school, we are taught to consider all routes to solve a problem. Once you determine the best route, you executed it confidently and got a gold star on your homework. These components are a part of the key components involved in these two constructs. Being exposed to these constructs intentionally from a young age can help facilitate growth in these domains in a protective way. While it is important to be able to bounce back, it is just as important to move forward with a positive pep in your step.

References Bland, R., & Darlington, Y. (2002). The nature and sources of hope: Perspectives of family caregivers of people with serious mental illness. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 38(2), 61-68.

Hellman, C. M., Worley, J. A., & Munoz, R. T. (2018). Hope as a

coping resource for caregiver resilience and well-being. In Family Caregiving (pp. 81-98). Springer, Cham

Munoz, R. T., Hanks, H., & Hellman, C. M. (2019). Hope and resilience as distinct contributors to psychological flourishing among childhood trauma survivors. Traumatology.

Rajan, A. M., Romate, J., & Srikrishna, G. (2016). Resilience of parents having children with intellectual disability: Influence of parent and child related demographic factors. Indian Journal of Health and wellbeing, 7(7), 707-710.

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