|||||||About the Author|
Melissa Weekes is a Product Development Specialist. Prior to joining Great Kids® in 2018, she worked as a home visitor with Public Health Services where she used the Growing Great Kids® Curriculum. Melissa lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and enjoys any opportunity to be creative!
An unexpected storm blew in yesterday. Wind and torrential rain pounded against the house; it was raining cats and dogs, as the saying goes. I was on a video call when suddenly there was a big crash, as a large tree snapped in two at the end of the house. It wasn’t the strongest storm we’ve had this year, but it must have caught this tree just right.
We knew the spruce was at the end of its life cycle, as the woodpeckers had been visiting it, hammering out their bright notes as they scoured for grubs. It was on our to-do list to cut the tree down, but we hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Thankfully, the falling tree didn’t cause any damage.
It’s interesting to note that moderate winds can make healthy trees stronger.1 They flex and grow more resilient, bouncing back to their regular position once the wind dies down.1 Why am I talking about trees, you might wonder? Well, yesterday’s incident got me thinking about how unexpected storms can also come up in life, and if we, our families, and our communities are healthy and resilient, we’re in a better place to withstand these pressures and thrive. Just as there are things gardeners can do to nourish and keep trees healthy, there are also some intentional things we can do to help keep ourselves and our families strong.2
For example, we can nourish the nurturing relationships in our lives by showing up for each other with our time, presence, and love.3,5 Although each family is different, investing in our relationships can involve things like saying “I love you” and sharing a hug, enjoying meals together, and doing simple activities or chores with one another.3 While these meaningful connections are critical for young children to develop in healthy ways, they’re important at any age to keep us nourished and grounded.3
If you’re a parent, another way to strengthen your family is to learn about your child’s stage of development. Parenting is hard work! Every child is unique, and keeping up with their development can be a challenge for any adult.3 When parents arm themselves with knowledge about their children’s development, they can set realistic expectations, which can make parenting easier.2,3
Parenting can also become easier as children get better at managing their feelings and getting along with others.2,3 Caregivers help children grow their social and emotional skills as they provide consistent nurturing responses, label feelings, and support kids to have positive interactions with others.2
Of course, when it comes to managing feelings, some days are easier than others. When the winds of life blow, we rely on our inner strengths to help get us through. These strengths can include things like our beliefs, having a sense of humor, being able to problem-solve, and asking for help when we need it.3 When we take the time to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally, we nurture our inner strengths, putting us in a better place to manage stress, grow our resilience, and feel good about the future.2,3
Along with looking within ourselves, we can also reach out to those around us. Having a network of caring friends and community relationships benefits children and adults alike.3 Knowing there are people we can rely on for support helps us face life with confidence.2 It also makes us feel good to know we can offer our assistance to others.2 While we may not all be social butterflies, making an effort to connect with friends and those around us empowers us to build stronger communities.2 In addition, these community connections can help us meet the basic needs of our families. We all need help sometimes, whether it’s sourcing healthy foods, finding a job, locating adequate housing, or accessing healthcare.2,3 When our basic needs are met, we have more time and energy for nurturing our relationships.2
Recent research suggests that, even during tough times, investing in our relationships and leaning on our support networks can create positive experiences for our families that buffer against adversity.4 When we take time to nourish our family’s roots and nurture our relationships, we can enjoy greater well-being and, like a healthy tree, be more resilient to bounce back when the unexpected storms of life roll by.
1. American Forest Foundation. (n.d.). How windstorms affect your forest. My Land Plan. https://mylandplan.org/content/how-windstorms-affect-your-forest
2. Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families. (2015). Strong families. Center for the Study of Social Policy Ideas into Action. https://cssp.org/resource/strong-families-parenting-brochure/
3. Children’s Bureau. (2022). 2021/2022 Prevention resource guide. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Child Welfare Information Gateway. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/resources/resource-guide/
4. Sege, B. (2021, May). Reasons for HOPE. Pediatrics, 147(5), e2020013987. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-013987
5. Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, T. P. (2021). The power of showing up: How parental presence shapes who our kids become and how their brains get wired. Ballantine Books.