According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child resilience can help us get through and overcome hardship but resilience is not something we’re born with—it’s built over time as the experiences we have interact with our unique, individual genetic makeup. That’s why we all respond to stress and adversity—like that from the COVID-19 pandemic—differently.
The Center tells us to think of resilience as a seesaw or balance scale, where negative experiences tip the scale toward bad outcomes, and positive experiences tip it toward good outcomes.
The point where the scale balances is called the “fulcrum,” and if it is more to one side or the other, it can make it harder or easier to tip the resilience scale to the positive. Everyone’s fulcrum is in a different spot—which explains why each person is different in how easily we can counterbalance hardships in life. The Center says the good news is that the fulcrum can be moved by developing a toolkit of skills you can use to adapt and find solutions.
If your family is anything like mine, you may have tipped toward the negative more often lately given the state of our world - with COVID-19, a heated election, and worries about the future. Believe me, I almost feel physically sick by how much talk revolves around this stinking pandemic. Then, not only are we all crabby, we have to argue about politics!
I’ve been paying particular attention to how my children are adapting. Some days are better than others, of course. And we all have to take the bad with the good.
My daughter recently finished 14 days of quarantine - actually, it was more like 17 days. When her college cases went completely online and it didn’t seem smart to pay the costly out-of-state tuition for courses like chemistry, she decided to take the semester off. I think it was a good decision even though she feels her purpose in life is not what she planned right now. Still, she found a great job working for a program through the YMCA in Bozeman, Montana for school-aged children while they are on a hybrid schedule. When the children were on fall break, my daughter found herself bored. Then, a friend invited her to breakfast and she was happy for the company. That is, until her friend tested positive for COVID the following day.
She called me crying the next day, “Mom, I was so looking forward to going back to work!”
I thought, at least this crummy situation has taught her to value full-time employment.
After months of basically having to teach himself fractions, history and spelling; learning how to link into an online class meeting; settling with the realization he wasn’t going to see his summer camp friends this year; and hearing he might not even be able to play on a basketball team this fall, my son has amazingly not turned to stone yet. Instead, he poured himself into redecorating his room. I guess, if you’re going to spend more time there, you want it to be aesthetically pleasing. And his creativity is blooming now more than ever.
I’ve watched the fulcrum shift often for both of my children these past few months. I guess knowing how it works provides hope that tomorrow can be better than today.