I remember sitting with my stepdaughter over breakfast when she was about 8. She told me that she was frustrated about her parent’s divorce, that she was now different from her friends and had to schlep her stuff back and forth between two residences. I am sure that she was frustrated about a lot more than that, but that’s what she wanted to share.
And because she’s got the social intelligence of a woman far beyond her age, I decided to go for it. I told her: “Adversity breeds character.”
She looked at me with confusion because I just threw down a couple of big words. I had her attention.
Adversity: Bad stuff. Difficult stuff. Breaking your arm. Having your parents get a divorce.
Breeds: Literally — having children, but in this case, giving life to. Creates, develops, builds.
Character: The quality of your personality. Who you are. Your strength, power, your uniqueness. In this case, your ability to find that silver lining, the rainbow on a rainy day.
And then, whenever something came up that she didn’t want to do (ie. dishes, walking the dog, cleaning her room), I’d remind her that it was through moving though these unpleasant tasks that she’d build character. What’s the benefit of doing the work that needs to get done?
Resilience is the word that’s popular these days, and according to professionals, a key quality that will help your child become a competent, successful adult.
Experts agree that resilience, or how you move through life’s difficulties, is of major importance. If you’d like to learn more, here’s my resilience roundup, a collection of buzzy articles that have been circulating over the last few years:
How People Learn to Become Resilient, The New Yorker
Building Resilience, Harvard Business Review
Why Resilience Is Good for Your Health and Career, The Wallstreet Journal
Stress: The roots of resilience, nature
The Benefits of Optimism Are Real, The Atlantic