November 1, 2020

Teaching your children resilience and to be grateful and strong 

I am the first to admit it: I think my grandchildren and most kids in this city are amazing. But I’ve never thought it more than I have over the last six months. Watching elementary and high school students navigate online learning while living at home with parents and siblings 24/7 has been an inspiration to those of us who are on the outside, looking in. 

Yes, 2020 has been a crappy year. This statement comes to you from a born optimist, someone whose high school nickname was Pollyanna. In my heart of hearts, I believe that something good will come out of every experience. 

But look at what our kids have had to deal with: First, the pandemic, something none of us thought would happen in a civilized country with one of the best medical care systems in the world. At this writing, we’ve lost more than 200,000 Americans to COVID-19 and our economy has experienced untold damage. I’ve watched my beautiful grandchildren deal with social isolation, when at ages 11 and 14 they are prime social animals. They’ve rocked virtual learning while missing their school and its dedicated teachers. As if all that weren’t enough, they were stuck with their parents 24/7. From what I can tell, they’ve done this with grace and style, even though the months dragged on forever. 

Hurricane season has been packed with three hurricanes (Laura, Marco, and Sally) threatening our city. Laura and Marco bore down on the Gulf and threatened to arrive together, like unwanted guests at the prom. Blessedly, they didn’t achieve this meteorological feat. But they scared the pants off our city’s residents and gave Jim Cantore some Maalox moments. 

A second line of hurricanes formed in the Atlantic and threatened the Gulf again. With so much action, weather teams have gone into the Greek alphabet to name storms, for only the second time in my life. Beta? Gamma? Theta? Are these hurricanes or sorority rush? 

Maryann Wejnert, Amelia and Rylan Claverie, Grandpa Lou Wejnert 

Then, the unthinkable happened in our family. Rylan and Amelia’s beloved New Jersey grandfather, Tamara’s father, died suddenly of a heart attack, one day after leaving the Emergency Room and being told he was fine. Louis Wejnert was a beloved son, father, husband, grandfather, and basketball coach. He was bigger than life – 6’5” tall – and when he entered a room his big, positive, booming energy could be felt. His message on and off the basketball court was, “Get better every day. Learn from wins and losses. Believe in your team.” His family, students. and colleagues adored him. We all did. 

In Coach Lou’s honor, his team wears royal blue wrist bands with his initials “LW” embroidered on the tops.  He made an indelible difference in the lives of his students who loved and respected him in his short 67 years of life on this earth. But mostly, he was Coach Lou and the Grandpa we’ll always remember. 

Before Rylan and Amelia were born, New Orleans had its worst hurricane of the century when Katrina ripped through our city. From that experience, we learned the meaning of the word “resilience.”  For a few years, that word was a badge of honor we all wore proudly. It meant our city and its citizens were strong. We fought back. We rebuilt. We became more courageous and better than before. I grew weary of the word and the energy that it took to live it.  And now, I’m looking at my grandchildren and hoping the many hard lessons of 2020 – a truly crappy year – will teach them resilience and to be grateful and strong. 

Grandpa Lou would want this.  “Believe in your team and in yourself,” I can hear him say. And he’s right.  We’ve got his life lessons and one another. You’ve got this, kids. 

Books to Build Resilience 

Reading recommendations from Nola Family’s “Hip Grannie,” Laura Claverie

Building a resilient kid or family isn’t easy. Listed here are some books that may help you and your family move forward from this calamitous year. 

All of these books were recommended by local teachers, psychologists, or counselors. Most are available at local bookstores or can be ordered through those stores. 

 For Children and Teens: 

  • Verona Corona, by Hailey Glynn
  • After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again), by Dan Santat
  • Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave, by Jessica Hische
  • A Long Pitch Home, by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
  • Dumplin, by Julie Murphy
  • Big Life Journal, journals for all ages 

For Parents: 

  • Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, by Kenneth R. Ginsburg
  • But I’m Almost 13! Raising a Responsible Adolescent, by Kenneth R Ginsburg and Martha M. Jablow
  • The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in your Life, by  Robert Brooks, Ph.D and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D
  • Raising Resilient Children; Fostering Strength, Hope and Optimism in your Child, by Robert Brooks, Ph.D and Sam Goldstein, Ph.Ds 

Laura Claverie is nola family's Hip Grannie. She is a local mother, grandmother, and writer.

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