While the election and inauguration are over, it seems, at least to me that partisan politics are as strong as ever. It spills over not only on cable news, broadcast news, internet and print, but also into daily conversations and interactions.
As a firm believer of seeing a bright future for all Americans and working towards that future, I am going to ask you to suspend belief for a few moments. Image a country where "optimism, ownership and a sense of control" is pervasive. These attributes, according to Dr. Robert Brooks and Dr. Sam Goldstein in "Raising Resilient Children," are the markers of resilience.
A resilient country. Just imagine.
How could we get there? Possibly delving into what makes a person resilient could shed some light. According to Brooks and Goldstein, resilient children have the "ability to be resilient and to meet life's challenges with thoughtfulness, confidence, purpose and empathy."
What is the children's mindset? "Resilient children feel special and appreciated. They have learned to set realistic goals and expectations for themselves. They have developed the ability to solve problems and make decisions and are thus more likely to view mistakes, hardships, and obstacles as challenges to confront rather than as stressors to avoid. They rely on productive coping strategies that are growth fostering rather than self-defeating. They are aware of they weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but they also recognize their strong points and talents. Their self-concept is filled with images of strength and competence. They have developed effective interpersonal skills with peers and adults alike. They are able to seek out assistance and nurturance in a comfortable, appropriate manner from adults who can provide the support they need. Finally, they are able to define the aspects of their lives over which they have control and to focus their energy and attention on theses rather than on factors over which they have little, if any, influence."
What helps create this resiliency in children, a "charismatic adult in children's lives — believing in them and providing feelings of self-worth."
Brooks and Goldstein included 10 "guideposts embedded in the mindset of parents who foster resilience," but two stood out to me. Being empathetic and changing "negative scripts," possibly because those are the two areas that are the most challenging for me.
"A basic foundation of any relationship . . . is empathy . . . the capacity of parents to put themselves in the shoes of their youngster and to see the world through their eyes. Empathy does not imply that you agree . . . you attempt to appreciate and validate their point of view."
"When you show deep empathy toward others,'" Stephen Covey wrote, "their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That's when you can get more creative in problem solving."
Think about the last time you talked to someone who had a different point of view, were you empathetic? Were they empathetic? And given the chance again, what could you do to become more empathetic. If the goal is problem solving versus pontificating, empathy just might be the answer.
Changing negative scripts is more intriguing and harder to put into place, at least for me. Scripts are "words or behaviors . . . echoed again and again in similar situations and in similar ways with predictable outcomes." Negative scripts result in outcomes that are not good. Yes, it probably sounds familiar, and according to Albert Einstein is insane. "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
These negative scripts are hard to change, but change they must to create an environment for problem solving rather than blame and incrimination. Ways to change include understanding that there is a solution, and trying different approaches until one works (persistence).
Imagine a country where we take pause, reflect on what has not worked and attempt to redraft the scripts we use with each other, both individually and in groups, to reach a different, positive result.
When we expect the best out of people, we often get great results. This is the core belief of the Trump administration, that the American people have the drive, the ingenuity, the smarts to accomplish great things — as long as they were not squelched by their own government.
To add fuel to turn this vision into a reality, we should practice empathy with those who disagree with us, leading to solutions rather than stagnation and look toward changing negative scripts — those that no longer work — into scripts that lead us to an outcome we desire.
For us to raise resilient children, we must first become resilient ourselves. In the process, while becoming more empathetic and changing negative scripts we might just be able to solve problems and create a bright future for all Americans.
Jackie Gingrich Cushman is the co-author, along with her father, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, of the book "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours." Read more reports from Jackie Gingrich Cushman — Click Here Now.