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5 Protective Factors Series: Parental Resilience

Parental Resilience

Parental resilience is defined by CSSP as “The ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with your own child, and knowing how to seek help when necessary.”

Key to building this resilience is addressing parents’ individual developmental history, psychological resources, and capacity to empathize with self and others. Programs and resources that rely on Attachment Theory create the pro-social connections necessary to develop parental resilience. Because so many parents who abuse and neglect children were abused and neglected themselves, they became parents void of quality intimate relationships with their own parents or caregivers. These parents find it difficult to develop positive attachments to their own children.

Father-specific resources address this factor because fathers who abuse and neglect their children, or who are at risk to abuse and neglect, have unique developmental needs compared to mothers. They moved through a different developmental trajectory. Because many of these fathers lacked involved fathers or positive male role models, they did not develop positive attachments to their fathers and other men. They also did not develop pro-fathering attitudes and values, chief among them attitudes and values associated with healthy masculinity. Masculinity is the primary framework upon which the male psyche is constructed.

All of NFI’s father-involvement programs use Attachment Theory as part of their multi-theoretical framework. Programs like 24/7 Dad® (curriculum Dad’s League uses in their Locker Rooms) and InsideOut Dad® create positive attachments between fathers, their children, and other adults (e.g. the mothers of their children) by teaching fathers how to effectively nurture themselves (e.g. through sessions on greater care of their own physical and mental health) and others (e.g. through sessions on child development and communication) in ways that fathers understand.

These programs lay the foundation for a future of healthy attachment with children when used with expectant fathers. Doctor Dad®, for example, increases fathers’ self-efficacy in basic healthcare and safety of infants and toddlers. As a result, it increases fathers’ ability to bond with their children through greater involvement in their children’s care.

Moreover, because facilitators deliver these programs in a group setting, fathers create pro-social connections/attachments with caring facilitators and other fathers. These bonds deepen as the programs progress to completion. They also learn to empathize with others through the mutual sharing of emotionally and spiritually intimate stories and experiences.

Look next week for the second post in this series.

Dad’s League has access to all the NFI resources mentioned in this article. Contact Antione Harvis with questions – 334-749-8400 or email at 

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