Safety is the foundation of family resilience.
When we consider strengthening the resilience of a family, there is one thing that we need to establish first.
When family members feel safe with each other and in their surroundings, it is possible to grow stronger through tough times. We become stronger and more resilient having faced adversity.
During stressful life events and traumas, we all need a safe place to seek comfort. It is a normal human need.
When we don’t have safety, we tend to move toward defensive behaviors or shut down. Defensive behavior includes yelling, fighting, screaming, and running away. Shutdown is when a family member withdraws, disconnects, or goes numb.
Shutdown is much quieter but it is also more serious. It is a sign that the stress is too high and can no longer be managed. The only option is to go numb...to no longer feel or engage with others.
We have seen this presentation a lot since the pandemic started. It is particularly evident with the number of children, teens, and parents who have retreated into their electronics.
Establishing safety within a family requires family members to be safe from harm in the physical environment (ie., crime, violence, etc.) and also safe in relationships.
Working toward safety may not be a perfect process but that is where repair becomes important. When there is a lack of safety experienced, it is important for the parents or adults to make efforts to repair the situation that caused the lack of safety.
Family resilience can be a bumpy road and isn’t a perfect process but with a foundation of safety, there are fewer potholes along the way!