4 Strategies for Resilient Parenting in Transition

It is one thing to personally navigate the chaos in transition when living abroad, but adding parenting to the mix takes resilience to a whole different level! Sometimes downhill and backwards I’ve found! That’s where resilience resides –the DOWNHILL and BACKWARDS reverses to UPHILL and FORWARDS. There’s never resilience without first hardship and pain.

Here are some journal excerpts from a few of my dark days as a parent in cross cultural relocation transition:

“I’m in survival mode.
Living in family, yet very alone.
Can’t seem to do much right these days.
Trying to hold the pieces of me together.
But they keep falling apart.
Like the parenting piece.
I’m impatient. Angry.
Controlling or uninvolved and distant.
I want my pain to disappear. Their pain to vanish.
Instead I add pain through guilt and shame.
How am I not loving and kind, patient and understanding when we all need it the most?
How have I gotten to the place where I see my children as
a ‘problem to solve’ rather than a precious person that’s struggling, too?
God help me.”

You may feel overwhelmed with what’s happening with your kids or how you’re reacting to them in their distresses right now. Maybe they’re ok, but you’re not. You’re finding it hard to be the parent you want to be. Consider these strategies:

1. Look after yourself.

Breathe, and tell yourself: “This is hard and I WILL get through it step by step.”
Maintain your self worth. You are MORE than how you’re reacting in your move, your job or lack of it, or your parenting right now.
Find support. Don’t isolate. If no one is around, there is a God who cares. Talk to Him, even if you question His existence or distance. You can also journal.
Control what you can control. Which is only you – your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Leave the rest – it will work itself out with time.
Set up a routine. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy, even with new and different foods. Commit to physical activity. Physical affects mental and emotional.
Make simple, step by step, daily goals and celebrate accomplishments. Remember, this is new territory that’s not be navigated before. Be gentle and accepting of what you can/can’t do.

2. In the raw, discover yourself. The ‘uglies’ (weaknesses and liabilities) come out in transition. It’s hard to be in this new place, without a sense of significance or security and with a whole lot of daily stress. This is natural. Our default mode, that way of being that we’ve tried hard to break free from, tends to raise its monster head. There is opportunity for noticing. Observation leads to self-discovery and renewal.

What’s the pained feelings? What’s causing them? What goes deeper than that?
What’s showing up that isn’t serving me or my parenting well?
How am I parenting? What am I taking out on the kids that isn’t about them? Where else can it be directed? What ‘inner child’ wants to be released?

3. Push the ‘parent’ reset button. When you fail yourself or your kids (which you will), it is ok. Push the reset button. You are your child’s best parent – never forget that.

You don’t have to fix anything. Even though it feels like it. Serve instead.
Surrender worry. It doesn’t help. Live from Love, not fear. Live in grace.
Re-establish love. Look at your children/teens through eyes of gratitude. What do you love? Who are they at their core? What about them melts your heart? Interact with them from this place.
Connect. Be present each day. Hang out. Play. Laugh together. Find something you can do that’s enjoyable and you’ll be surprised how you’ll all start to relax.
Listen and validate feelings. This always rebuilds connection and helps them re-establish equilibrium with feelings. Most of us just need to tell our stories without being judged. That goes for kids too.
Learn together about coping well in transition.

i. Brainstorm. Ask your kids what ideas they have. You’ll be surprised what they come up with. Try them out and see what works.
ii.Process feelings. Experiment as a family with healthy ways to do this, knowing that each child is different so needs different pathways.
iii. Dinner time dialogue is a key to family strength. Ask “what’s your high and low today?” Have each child come up with a question they want answered (one each meal time). Make it upbeat and you’ll all be learning skills of respect, listening, responding, and building connection.
iv. What did you used to do as a family that’s has been left unpacked? Unpack it – find a favorite restaurant, enjoy a game, sight see, watch a movie together, dress backwards for a meal.
v. What new rituals can you start? It may take time to discover, however make a list of new ideas that can be built into ritual. Just the idea of a list and trying them out will give a sense of adventure together.

4. Practise and progress, not perfection – Let go of over achieving and expectations that are over-the-top, both individually and as a family. This motto is a must for all families – it allows space for experimenting, trying and slow growth. It allows for mistakes and bad days and negative emotions. It offers forgiveness and grace. Learning new ways of doing and being takes time and effort and is messy in families. Accept it as part of life!

Painful parenting can lead to stronger, resilient parenting as you intentionally choose not to waste the pain or challenges. Be encouraged that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. That means all of us can find it as we realign ourselves with Love and Truth. Championing you and your parenting, wherever you find yourself today.

Becky Signature 2



What has allowed you resilience as a parent?

What ideas can you share for parenting well in the face of chaos and challenge? Thanks for leaving a comment below.

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