Welcome to Families Tackling Tough Times Together, an initiative of Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS). This program supports families as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Guided by scientific evidence about family resilience, the “pop-up” program is being developed by HHS along with contributing partners from Purdue and beyond, with the aim of helping families strengthen their resilience while they cope with the crisis. All materials are carefully vetted and include engaging and fun activities that fit easily into daily life. Families with children, youth, young adults and older adults will find materials tailored for them along with accompanying podcasts for each theme. Additional features include additional podcasts with experts, live events and community engagement activities. All are welcome – we especially welcome military families.

In the video below, Families Tackling Tough Times Together Founder Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth introduces Froma Walsh, one of the world’s leading scientific experts on family resilience. Walsh is a clinical psychologist and emeritus professor at the University of Chicago. She also serves as the co-director for the Chicago Center for Family Health. Walsh discusses her book “Strengthening Family Resilience” the conclusive family resilience resource. Walsh explains that family resilience is about the family as a functional unit in overcoming adversity and how families are able to cope and adapt to stressful situations. Walsh also explains how many families are able to grow stronger by reaching out to others. We hope the video will help give you a better understanding of family resilience and how families in crisis can overcome adversity.

Introduction to Family Resilience

Today, families all over the world are facing new challenges. More than ever, they are drawing on their strengths to deal with COVID-19. All families have strengths they use to endure, recover, and even become stronger in times of trouble. Working together to achieve a common goal helps families cope with challenges today and in the future.

Resilience is the ability of families to “withstand and rebound from adversity.” Resilience does not mean that families are immune from upset or trouble. It means they are more likely to recover and even grow. Every family has strengths to build on. Resilience is more likely to occur when families:

  • share positive beliefs,
  • adapt effectively, and
  • communicate supportively.

Shared Beliefs

Beliefs filter the way we see the world. Families build belief systems that reflect their shared understanding of how the world works and their place in it. Families are more likely to be resilient when they:

  • believe they can overcome difficulties,
  • view crises as shared challenges that are part of normal life,
  • tolerate uncertainty, and
  • accept what can’t be changed.

Families where members focus on each other and their strengths can learn to thrive when facing challenges. Connections to faith, spirituality, and nature can also promote resilience. They can encourage hope and make it easier to solve problems together.


When challenges arise, families must adapt. Families are more likely to be resilient when they:

  • adjust to change while maintaining order within the family,
  • use a positive view of the unknown, and
  • work together to do what is needed to tackle challenges.

Families who make good use of help from others are better able to cope and support each other. Families who focus on each other based on love and caring are better able to deal with stress.


Communication is part of every aspect of family life but is especially important during stressful times. Problem-solving is also an important part of clear, positive communication. Families are more likely to be resilient when they:

  • encourage their members to express their feelings and respond with understanding.
  • understand a crisis and how they will overcome it together.

Families who work together to find ways to rebound from shared challenges are practicing resilience.

Still have more questions? View the FAQ.