Adaptation in families with young children : identifying key processes and factors of resilience
Family resiliency refers to the ability of families to withstand and rebound from crises and adversity, and entails adequate or more than adequate adaptation in the face of adversity. The aim of this study was to identify those qualities or resources that young families have employed in their adaptation to the addition of a child to the couple/family relationship and which have deemed them resilient during this normative crisis. Grounded within family systems theory (Carter & McGoldrick, 2003), both the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation (McCubbin & McCubbin, 1996) and the Key Family Processes as outlined by Walsh (2002) served as the theoretical frameworks that guided the execution of the research. Eighty-nine families, in which the eldest child was no older than four years of age, took part in this study. Seven quantitative questionnaires were used in the assessment of family adaptation, whilst the participating parents also completed a demographic questionnaire and answered an open-ended question. The qualitative dimension of this study revealed that families regarded the resources of social support, effective and caring communication, flexibility in family roles, rules and relationships and, lastly, commitment to the family as important resources in the process of adapting to the presence of a young child in the family. The quantitative results indicate that resilience may be bolstered by spending time together and managing a routine, as well as valuing the family unit highly.