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Family Nursing Network
Lynn Kuechle

Family Resilience

4 posts in this topic



I am new to this website and had a couple thoughts come to mind that I wanted to share, so hoping my response is on track? Given the nature of family resilience and its very broad definition, I appreciate the definition and nursing actions provided within this construct network. Family resilience is a complex construct that may be modifiable to varying illness contexts and/or any given setting really, especially given that negative effects of adversity exist at all levels: individual, family, school, community, and cultural levels. One context that comes to mind through my years as a school nurse is strategies to support the development of resilience in children and their families, or more specifically, families of children living with chronic illness that are more vulnerable to mental health problems, which can be ameliorated by a family’s resilience.  Another prominent example is helping families and youth cope relating to Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) and ever-changing parenting style practices, which can also help to increase a sense of social support and reduce the risk for exposure to traumatic events. I have come to find in my school nurse practice due to the vast amount of cultural implications and impoverished determinants, there is ample room in helping to intervene, support and foster family resilience, especially caring for these families coming directly from refugee camps and acclimating to the U.S. culture, community, and school system for example. There have been several key resilience principles that have emerged within the literature to inform the building of resilience that focus on social justice and equity; encouraging adaptive and continual learning; building effective governance mechanisms and institutions; making interventions specific to the local/community context; and fostering strategic and long-term engagement with key stakeholders, including community members and leaders (De Souza, R.M., 2014).

Just as managing chronic illness requires a team approach in communities and schools, supporting resilience and the emotional well-being of families should be everyone’s responsibility. I think there is great opportunity to look at family resilience from a community (context) standpoint as well whereby families live, work, and play. Set aside primary care context and nurses (which are also very important) community/public health and/or school nurses, for example, are in a unique position to touch the lives of many families with interventions that support the development of resiliency. Additionally, I see the construct of family resilience very useful and helpful in teaching family nursing to undergraduate nursing students, as all of us can learn from each other a from clinical and professional as well as personal experiences as we strive to help students gain mastery of resilience. Furthermore, I see vital purpose in teaching about family resiliency to help enable learners to understand the construct and importance of and to employ strategies in school nursing, or community nursing settings for example, to support the development of resilience in families.  As we look at the broad characteristics of resilience to narrow the focus of this context, this too will help guide our interventions/nursing actions with families and communities as a whole. A family-focused approach in community mental health can be used to prevent problems for children and their families and identify their strengths as well as vulnerabilities. Family-focused care is a useful framework from which to support families and address the challenges that might arise from parental mental illness, and to build individual and family resilience (Foster, O’Brien, Korhonen, 2012). From a public health nursing perspective, I have also done research on family resilience fundamental to disaster (nursing) preparedness, response, including several domains of resilience that contribute to the overall resilience of families within communities.



De Souza, R.M. (2014). Resilience, integrated development and family planning: building long-term solutions. Reproductive Health Matters, 22(43), 75-83

Foster, K., O’Brien, L., & Korhonen, T. (2012). Developing resilient children and families when parents have mental illness: A family-focused approach. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing21, 3–11doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2011.00754.x

Melinda, M. J., & Nicole, L. (2013). Community resilience and public health practice. American Journal of Public Health, 103(7): 1158-1160

Walsh, F. (2007). Traumatic loss and major disasters: Strengthening family and community resilience. Family Process, 46(2), 207-227. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2007.00205.x

6 hours ago, Lynn Kuechle said:
The “ability of a family to respond positively to an adverse event and emerge strengthened, more resourceful and more confident” (Benzies & Mychasiuk, 2009, p. 103; McCubbin & McCubbin 1993). Resiliency is fostered by protective factors and inhibited by risk factors. Protective factors transform responses to adverse events so that families avoid possible negative outcomes (Weihs, Fisher, & Baird, 2002). Affirm family strengths and competence

Further development needed

  • Identify protective behaviors, as well as risk factors within and outside the family unit that influence health
  • Commend family strengths and praise efforts to meet needs
  • Identify ways family can access resources
  • Identify who helps the most with family’s greatest challenges
  • Explore families’ constraining beliefs that negatively influence health and resilience
  • Explore families facilitating beliefs that positively influence health and resilience
  • Implement actions that balance threats and resources
  • Identify spiritual or religious beliefs and sources that are viewed as helpful to the family
  • Encourage family discussions about conflicts and differences

(Black, & Lobo, 2008; Walsh, 2003; Weihs, Fisher,& Baird, 2002)



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