Resilience is the means by which, for example, children from troubled families are not immobilized by hardship but rebound from it. They learn to protect themselves and emerge as strong adults who are able to lead gratifying lives. The groundbreaking resilience research of sociologist Emmy Werner, Ph.D., of the University of California, showed that even during early life about a third of these kids never seem to be affected by the grinding poverty, alcoholism, and abuse in the homes in which they are raised. Of the remaining two-thirds, many are troubled as teens, typically turning to petty crime. But by the time they reach their 30s and 40s, they have pulled themselves together, determined not to repeat their parents' lives.
A troubled family can indeed inflict considerable harm on its children, but resilient people are challenged by such troubles to experiment and respond actively and creatively. Their preemptive responses to adversity, repeated over time, become incorporated into their inner selves as lasting strengths.