Family resilience is the ability of families to weather and rebound from crisis and persistent life challenges as strengthened and more resourceful.
Family resilience involves the complex interaction of several processes over the course of time; from the way, a family – as a functional unity – reacts to a critical situation to its capacity to deal with transient conditions of disorganization to newly developed strategies when difficult times emerge, in the short and long term.
Some situations require a long-term adaptation to a “new normal,” others require families to repeatedly shift onto a “roller-coaster” course, while still others require adaptation to a progressive decline, as in the varied trajectories of chronic illness.
Developing family resilience, like individual resilience, is different for every family. The important idea to keep in mind is that an underlying stronghold of family resilience is cohesion, a sense of belonging, and communication. It is important for a family to feel that when their world is unstable they have each other. This sense of bonding and trust is what fuels a family’s ability to be resilient.
Families that learn how to cope with challenges and meet individual needs are more resilient to stress and crisis. Healthy families solve problems with cooperation, creative brainstorming, openness to others, and emphasis on the role of social support and connectedness (versus isolation) in family resiliency. Resilience is exercised when family members demonstrate behaviors such as confidence, hard work, cooperation, and forgiveness. These are factors that help families withstand stressors throughout the family life cycle.