Friday, August 30, 2013


By:  Jane Samuel

I knew the minute my husband pulled out of the lot and darted across the street to drop me at the pharmacy that it was a bad idea. Our youngest had run back into the retirement home where my father lived to retrieve a forgotten item and my husband thought it would be quicker to pull across, drop me, and run back and get her while I shopped. Problem is he didn’t tell her. He just figured he could get back before she noticed. Wrong.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Resilience – Inborn or Learned – Part 2

by:  Julie Beem

The listing of factors that make children resilient from Resilience Theory: A Literature Review by Adrian DePlessis VanBreda  made total sense to me.  But the paragraph of conclusion supposedly based on these factors did not:

Clearly, children are not defenceless against stressful life conditions. There are many factors which can assist to ‘buffer’ (Rutter, 1985) children against stress, and which assist them in growing up to be well-adjusted and happy adults, who work well, play well, love well and expect well (Werner in Dahlin et al., 1990, p.228).These resilience studies stand in contrast to “the overwhelming bulk of developmental research[which] has been devoted to exploring the pathogenic hypothesis, ie that risk factors in the perinatal period, infancy and early childhood are predictive of disturbances in later childhood and adulthood” (ibid.). Resilience Theory: A Literature Review at page 11.

Wait a minute!  Children are not defenseless against stress because they have resiliency factors.  But those factors are primarily good nurturing, healthy bonds with primary caregivers and others early in their lives that help give them that positive self-image and world view, the coping skills, the internal locus of control.  As the parent of a child who did NOT receive this in early childhood/infancy, I can attest to the fact that those are the stuff of which resiliency is made of.  So to say that the developmental research, and things like the ACE Study stand in contrast to resiliency theory is still confusing to me.  Children who do not have opportunity to build healthy attachments, who do not have adults in their lives to serve as stable caregivers, who are separated from their primary caregiver during that first year are at risk, just like developmental research shows time and again.

Resiliency is made/learned, not inborn.  It just is.  And the push toward building resiliency in traumatized children and adults is a noble one.  BUT, we really need to understand how much at risk each person who lacks these healthy beginnings is, and how challenging it is to build the capacity for being resilient is, when those early attachment underpinnings are not there.  It is not as simple as just decrying all the research that shows that children are at great risk when they have adverse early childhoods (ones with abuse, neglect, poverty, maltreatment, lack of food, lack of healthy attachment).  Apparently Resiliency Theory’s own research shows that healthy attachment, attention by caring adults, and positive treatment by caregivers and teachers are major factors in building a child’s capacity for resilience. So, shouldn’t the focus really be on what can be done to build healthy attachments?

If I were defining resilience it would be the ability to “bounce back” from or cope with major life stressors due to the capacity that was built in a person’s infancy and early childhood through healthy attachments and nurturing care that helped that person to view themselves as competent, the world as a basically good place and to hone their positive and flexible coping skills.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Resilience – Inborn or Learned – Part 1

by:  Julie Beem

There’s a lot of talk about resilience being the antidote to trauma.  Lots of workshops, books, and training programs talk about building resilience in kids as a way to counteract the impact of trauma in their lives.  On the surface all this seems to make sense, but it’s always puzzled me.  What did people mean by resilience, and why does it appear that my child has none, even after years of parenting her?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dos & Don'ts: An Adoptive & Foster Parent's Letter to Family and Friends

ATN is delighted to include another post from Carol Lozier.  Carol, a member of ATN's Board of Directors, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky.  Her website,, offers a blog, free downloadable tools for families, an excerpt of her book, and a supportive community of adoptive and foster parents.

by:  Carol Lozier

Have you ever noticed that adopted and foster kids are especially cute? Their beautiful eyes, cute noses, and charming smiles often call attention to them and to their family. In the midst of this attention, adoptive and foster parents often hear remarks of how their parenting could be more effective, or possibly that they are expecting too much or too little from their child. Understandably, parents are caught off guard as they are hit with a critical comment, and sometimes are not sure how to address them.