Children, Youth, Families & Schools, Nebraska Center for Research on


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Published in S. Goldstein, R. B. Brooks, eds., Handbook of Resilience in Children (2023) doi:10.1007/978-3-031-14728-9_7


Copyright © 2023 Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Portions of this chapter were published originally in Sheridan, S. M., Sjuts, T. M., & Coutts, M. J. (2012). Understanding and promoting the development of resilience in families. In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks, eds., Handbook of resiliency in children; 2nd Edition (pp. 143– 160). New York: Kluwer/Plenum Press.


Families comprise the primary context for a child’s development. As the composition of the family system continues to change, the adult caregivers’ role has become increasingly important in fostering healthy developmental trajectories for their children. Family relationships and interaction styles are central to developing competence and promoting adaptive educational, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. Families give children an informal education (Turnbull et al., 2015), which is a prerequisite to successful experiences in the classroom (Adams & Christenson, 2000). Whereas the school environment sets up developmental tasks for students, the family serves as an important resource for the acquisition of these developmental tasks (Stevenson & Baker, 1987). Parents are providers of linguistic and social capital by presenting their child with learning experiences from early childhood through adult years. Such experiences consist of (a) exposing a child to ideas and activities that promote the acquisition of knowledge; (b) assisting in the socialization of gender, cultural, and peer roles; (c) establishing standards, expectations, and rules; and (d) delivering rewards and praise (Clark, 1988). Parents also play an important role in the development of children’s behavioral, social, and academic skills. Inevitably, all families face various forms of stress and adversity over the course of their life. These situations challenge the family’s ability to optimally support the development of child and adult family members. The purpose of this chapter is to articulate the concept of family resilience and its importance in helping families ensure healthy development and adaptation. Following a brief discussion of realities facing families in contemporary society, the notion of family resilience will be defined and couched in ecological theory. The characteristics of resilient families will be reviewed, and approaches for building family strength and resilience will be presented.