A month or so ago, a friend asked me to recommend four books for college business students. “Four?!” I asked incredulously. “Only four?!” He laughed and told me to recommend whatever I wanted, and he would cut the list down to a manageable size. But that got me thinking.
If I could only recommend one book, to virtually anyone, what book would that be?
And that decision only took me a second to make. Resilience by Eric Greitens. The book has such wisdom, such encouragement, and plain old common sense. I am reading it for the third time, and every time I find something new to highlight.
For a bit of background, Greitens initially did a lot of work as a relief worker in Bosnia, Cambodia, and other war-torn places. But rather than focus on the terrible conditions that existed, he chose to look at the human experience in a rather Viktor Frankle-like way, asking the question, “Who not only survives, but actually thrives, despite the horrendous circumstances?” In other words, it was in these early experiences that he began sowing the seeds of his work in resilience.
But it was also during one of these experiences that he made another discovery; a “strongly worded letter of protest” was not enough to change many of these situations. It wasn’t enough to have a heart of service; sometimes a “fist” was necessary to stop evil people from creating these situations in the first place. That led him to sign up and become a Navy SEAL. It also led to his book, The Heart and the Fist. And again, more lessons in resilience. But not just resilience during military service, but also resilience after returning home. He founded an organization called The Mission Continues, which works with returning vets to give them a sense of purpose; to remind them that they are needed.
But 300 words into this post, you’re probably wondering what a book recommendation has to do with Case Navigator™, especially a book that’s not about child welfare, specifically.
Most people in this field have heard of the ACEs study. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. The more of these a child has, the more likely they will have significant issues not just in childhood, but also into adulthood. A wide variety of problems, ranging from substance abuse, to domestic violence, to health issues such as heart disease and diabetes. Because Case Navigator™ works with parents post-removal, there’s not much I can do about the ACEs that have already occurred.
Interestingly, though, one of the things that can help offset these ACEs is—resilience.
Resilience gives us hope in the face of adversity. It helps us look beyond the current circumstances, knowing that things can change for the better; we won’t always be in this current, negative situation. It helps us realize that the “whole world” and all the people in it aren’t like this current place or the people in it. And most importantly, it helps us take steps to move forward and not get stuck in that place.
If you clicked on the link above to take the ACEs assessment, scrolling down further will take you to another one: the resilience assessment. Anyone can help children build resilience, because it’s more about having people love you, support you, and encourage you. The more of these people you have in your life, the better; but even one individual helping to build up a child and be a resource for them to go to if they have trouble is invaluable.
Case Navigator™ can help parents stay on track with their case plan and court orders. We can lend “bandwidth” so parents can make better decisions, which will lead to better outcomes. And hopefully all of those things will help parents help their children become more resilient (and maybe them as well). But we will be even more successful if you will help us by simply pouring into the life of a child—any child (because you never know who needs it, or what’s going on in a child’s or family’s life). You don’t have to formally volunteer for an organization (although if you want to, I would highly recommend CASA).
I’m also not suggesting that you have to “fix” anything. Just be there for a child. Listen to him. Encourage her. Lift him up. Empathize with her. Ask him how school is going. These things cost nothing but a bit of your time and attention, yet can have a huge impact in the life of a child and the adult they are becoming.
And that, hopefully, will lead to lower ACEs scores for their children.