Our families, by nature and social conditioning, are supposed to be our safe place. We think of our family as the place where we are included, accepted, and loved unconditionally. Again, at least we think it is supposed to be this way. But, every family at one time or another will go through some type of a family crisis.
When the unexpected happens and our family is impacted in an alarming or negative way, it can be a family crisis. We can be resilient in our response as a family or we can be fragile in our response. From experience, resilience is the preferred way.
Moms, as nature will have it, usually take on the leading role in determining if the family will respond to the crisis with resilience or fragility, but all family members contribute and play supportive roles.
First though, it is important to know that there are two truths and a lie to be aware of in any family crisis.
The first truth: Whatever is happening in a family crisis, there are some clear facts. Facing reality and knowing the facts is an important first step to being resilient. Avoiding reality because we are afraid of the truth only keeps us dodging around, not knowing what the real problem or danger is. We waste precious time and energy and lose connection when we do not face the facts, often the ones that are right in front of us.
Will it be easy? No. Facing the truth that a loved one is suffering from mental illness, abusing substances, or has been lying to us about something significant can be the hardest part of the whole situation. Identifying what the facts are first is a critical step to being resilient.
Second, in any family crisis our brains will automatically go to work to solve the problem. The problem with this is that our brains seek patterns and repeat whatever has been done before in similar situations. It quickly scans for the most efficient solution, but this is often not the most effective solution, especially because a family crisis typically involves intense emotions and unexpected (often negative) events to process through. The first, most efficient response the brain usually comes up with is blame. Who is at fault? How did this happen? It is a quick answer, and unfortunately for moms we often point the finger right back at ourselves.
This brings us to the third, critically important truth to know, in any family crisis. This one is for moms only. There is a lie we tell ourselves; that if our kids are really struggling or if our family is having a crisis. The lie is that we are a “bad mom.” This is a bold-faced lie. Trust me when I say if you are a mom with a family who has big problems, YOU are an amazing, strong, and good mom. This is the truth.
Now that we have these three critically important truths identified, HOW do we respond in a crisis to be resilient as a family?
I like to think of resiliency as facing a problem first and then showing relentless staying power until it is solved. It exemplifies stability and strength. It is also defined by connectedness. Resilience is sheer determination to remain solid and steady. It also means getting back up when we fall down. Here is how these characteristics of resiliency show up in families in crisis:
- Facing the reality and facts of the crisis at hand, including our own part in it, and persevering until it is solved or at least reduced.
- Allowing all emotions and not being afraid to show them.
- Valuing connection and staying connected by listening, accepting, loving unconditionally, and forgiving.
- Remaining solid in our commitments, and steady in our faith.
- Getting back up, moving forward, and keeping going, in crisis or not.
Fragile families respond to crisis in a completely opposite way.
They are not doing crisis “wrong.” There is no right or wrong way to do a family crisis. It is just that some families respond to a crisis in a way that makes them more fragile instead of more resilient.
Running away from the crisis, or trying to avoid reality is one way families become disempowered. They see the crisis as having power over them, and it is an obstacle they cannot face, much less maneuver around. Accepting that a crisis is happening, while actively addressing what can be done, is so much more empowering.
Hiding from and avoiding emotions, or limiting the emotions that are “allowed” in a family is another way that relationships and the family unit can break down, especially in a crisis. Emotional processing, before, during, and especially after a crisis, sometimes requires professional help, but feeling emotions and feeling them all the way through will always be helpful for mental health.
When we are wishing our family would act differently, or judging their actions, when we resort to blaming, shaming, or rejecting within our families, this is when we disconnect. Disconnection makes us less resilient, and more susceptible to breaking down (metaphorically speaking) or breaking apart in terms of our relationships.
And finally, families become fragile when the family members give up on each other. Even in crisis, in the most challenging of times, resilient families have each family member’s back. They believe in each other. They love each other unconditionally. They forgive. They connect.
* If your family has experienced a crisis and needs help bouncing back, I am exactly the crisis coach for you! Check out my website at www.reallifelifecoach.com where you’ll find my podcast, crisis resources, and coaching.
The Good Mom Coach
Jodi is a compassionate and relatable life coach for moms who have neurodiversity in their families. Jodi helps moms uncover who they are and what they really want without apology or guilt, through her proven personalized coaching program! She is a mom of four herself, with 20 years of experience in education plus expertise in autism, bipolar disorder, positive psychology, and DBT. Jodi holds a M.S. in Educational Leadership and is certified as a life coach and weight coach with The Life Coach School. You can learn more by chatting with Jodi on a free Turning Point call.
Jodi invites you to listen to her weekly ad-free podcast, The Good Mom Podcast, where she shares short stories with unconventional solutions that will uplift and inspire you.
Listen here: The Good Mom Podcast
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