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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Resiliency in families

         How do two children from the same abusive family grow up so differently: one resilient, one not-so-much? As a counselor who has worked with students  from  a specific part of the alphabet for the past 11 years, I have met many siblings who have faced the same adversities, yet turned out so differently.
         I had a young girl, I'll call Mary, who was the ideal teenager. She was so full of life, loved by her peers and teachers and very actively involved in her school. She was the poster-child for being "well-rounded!" On top of balancing band, orchestra, dance and theater, she maintained about a 4.4 GPA with as many honors and Advanced Placement courses she could possibly take. I would see her late after school while still at drama practice and see her first thing in the morning at band or dance practice.  I often thought what a great upbringing she must have had given her personality and livelihood.

Her younger sister, I'll call Carey, entered high school when Mary was a Junior. She was gothic, depressed, uninvolved in school activities and struggled academically with just the basic curriculum. I spent a lot of time with this young lady. I learned of her abusive father who was an alcoholic and her difficult mother who was nothing less than miserable.

Both girls: Same parents-different outcomes. 

Mary had a DREAM to be a musician, Carey had no DREAM, no future plans, no desire to go to college.
Mary BELIEVED in her ability to succeed no matter what the challenge. Carey did not BELIEVE in herself and in fact compared herself to her more successful sister.
Mary RELAXED with her music and dance and Carey was an angry young lady who didn't even make time to RELAX.
Mary LAUGHED  with her variety of friends while Carey was grim and sad and didn't crack a smile, let alone, LAUGH.
Mary had a lot of peers and staff who really LOVED her. Carey did not feel LOVE from her parents and had few friends she could rely on, let alone feel loved.

Two children. Two years apart. Two dysfunctional  parents. Two different outcomes.

Resiliency can make or break you.

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