Would you say that you are resilient? Do you have the strength it takes to overcome the blows that life deals us all, sometimes on what feels like a daily basis, with dignity and peace of mind? Or are you the kind of person who finds themselves becoming embittered, and dwelling on the hard times with a longevity that makes it more than just a phase of healing? These are hard questions to answer, depending on your response, and they can be hard questions to ask ourselves, depending on our personal outlook on life.
Resilience is a skill that we need to instill in our children from a young age. Life is no easy journey, and during the part when it should be easy, in childhood, we don’t usually recognise that it is. However, even childhood itself isn’t easy for everyone. Domestic violence, emotional abuse, divorce that may not be dealt with appropriately by the adults involved, alcoholism, parental illness or bereavement, homelessness – these happen every day, in families the world over.
There is research to show that in those families, the resulting children often take either one end of the adult spectrum, or the other. Some, due to their circumstances or neglect, grow-up to be drug abusers or offenders, whereas others grow-up to excel at whatever they choose to do.What is the difference, do you think, between these children? The answer, is that the difference may be you.
Those children who grow-up to be successful have generally all had someone in their life that believed in them. Someone who stood by and ensured that they felt valued and special, and safe and significant, someone who nurtured them and fostered their dreams. Those children became resilient to what went on around them, and the things they had no control over, because a parent, a relative, a friend, a teacher, or a neighbour, showed them that they could make their own way, and empowered them to do so.
In fact, you may be reading this now, unaware that you are the one making the difference to a child’s future, simply by the way in which you are showing them your belief and your care.
I watched the Dunblane documentary last week on the BBC, and for the majority of it I watched in awe, in depths of sadness, and in silent tears. Those tiny children in the class photograph, pictured with their teacher, each with a smile that was full of the innocence and sweet joy of childhood, was in soul-breaking juxtaposition with the horror and hell to come. The parents of those youngsters, some of whom had already suffered tragedy in their lives before the events on the 13th March 1996, were a sheer force of inspiration. Simply enough to take your breath away. The purity of courage and total lack of self-pity, in the face of such depths of lifelong mourning and grief, were incredible. To continue to live, let alone simply function, after experiencing such a soul-shattering horror, was testament to a bravery and love that refused to be destroyed by what an evil man did on a Spring day, to those joyful splashes of childhood colour on the world.
Events such as Dunblane shed a sobering light of realism on the situations around us. Our circumstances are all relative. We all have days when we awake to a bad mood because we can’t park at work or a fox broke through the bin bags in the garden, but perhaps we need to remind ourselves and ask ourselves if our life is really so bad, on a day to day basis? Are you really suffering (you may well be), or are you actually making a fuss and lashing out with blame and crossness about what amounts, in the grand scheme of living, to absolutely nothing?
Life throws obstacles at us all, but it is the way in which we overcome these and find a route around them, that speaks volumes about who we really are. Sometimes a perceived horror is actually a temporary tough time, sometimes it’s an utter tragedy that takes true bravery to even attempt to come out the other side. But if we help each other, and nurture the hopes and dreams of other people, then we can at least make life a little easier for everyone.
First published on Tuesday 15th March in The Portsmouth News.