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Photo Credit: Will Crooks

Why Resilience Matters

Post by Eboni N. Walker, 27 September 2021

It’s been nearly three weeks since Hurricane Ida hit Southeast Louisiana.  Ida arrived on August 29, the exact anniversary date of Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago.  Needless to say it felt like déjà vu when we evacuated east towards Alabama.  Only this time, we were more prepared.  We had planned.  We had refreshed the materials in our evacuation tub, packed all of the essential documents, and I had even brought my child’s baby photo album (yes, real pictures in a photo book).  In my mind I was prepared to drive away and start over if need be.

Instead we lived like nomads for a couple of weeks until the power was restored to our home, hopping from a hotel and then to an Airbnb before heading back to our home.  Our neighborhood greeted us with debris lined streets and growing trash piles that have not been picked up since the storm hit.  And while New Orleans is not as gray as it was after Katrina, it stinks- like rotten meat – a dream deferred.

Yet with big easy spirits we are continually fed words of encouragement, “The people of New Orleans have been here before.  We will get through this together.  Our city is resilient.”

Why do we have to be resilient?

Once again, this place feels like the city that care forgot. The sentiments of Chief Thomas DarDar of the United Houma Nation at the 10 Year Anniversary of Katrina still echo today in 2021.  He said, “Resiliency is just another word they throw on something when they have no idea what it really takes to live in a community.”

Is anyone else out there feeling just plain sick and tired, like me?

Is resilience overrated?

In the sphere of early childhood education, resilience is a skill that can be developed over time rather than something a child possesses or not.  Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child defines resilience as one’s ability to overcome severe hardship.  The ability for some children to become more resilient than others depends upon their interactions with their environment, primarily secure relationships.  “The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.” 

For my 8 year-old son, that person is me.  I serve as a model for how to manage emotions, deal with setbacks, plan ahead, and share gratitude in the midst of struggle.  Research suggests that resources such as supportive adult-child relationships and engaging sources of faith, hope, and cultural traditions can help children learn how to optimize resilience. These factors aid children building a sense of self-efficacy and strengthening adaptive skills as well as self-regulatory capacities.

Now more than ever, children need adults in their lives to teach them healthy ways to cope with, adapt to, and plan for the adversities in life.  Hurricane Ida was yet another lesson for me on resiliency, and one I hope my son will remember for the trials he will face.