Be the One: Why We ALL Need Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships

Did you know that for a child who has faced adversity, the difference between growing into a resilient adult or perhaps facing lifelong struggle can be one relationship? Just one! We ALL need safe, stable, nurturing relationships. Join the Mental Health Mamas for our thoughts on this and how we can each Be the One!

Notes and Mentions

Episode Mentions:

Essentials for Childhood - Creating Safe, Stable Nurturing Relationships and Environments for All Children Report from the CDC

Children Benefit When Parents Have Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships CDC Publication

Why Kids Need Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships Article From Strong4Life

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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.

Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.


Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.

Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.

Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as the parents of kids who struggle with their emotional health.

Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website,

Serena: Tina and I have shared on the podcast before that we do work in our community to support other parents like ourselves and a part of that work is being involved in our local systems of care. And that’s a little bit of a complicated concept, but essentially it boils down to cross-system collaboration to support the mental health of youth and families in our community.

Tina: Yeah and a few years ago, our systems of care started a campaign or a movement, you might call it. It was called Be the One. We love this campaign and we’d like to share with you what it’s all about and why we think it is so important.

Serena: So let’s start by defining what this means. The idea behind the campaign is based in research and what the research shows is that when children experience adversity and trauma during childhood they can still grow up to be resilient, well-adjusted adults IF they have had good relationships with adults in their lives. In fact, just one relationship can make all the difference.

Tina: And that is a really important piece and I think it’s worth repeating. For a child who has faced adversity, the difference between growing into a resilient adult or perhaps facing lifelong struggle can be one relationship. Just one!

Serena: Yes, although there are some parameters to that relationship. First, the person is often a parent, but they don’t have to be! Sometimes other adults fill that role for a child. They could be a teacher, a coach, another relative or even a neighbor.

Tina: Right. And another key is that the relationship must be safe, stable and nurturing. Let’s break that down a little bit.

Serena: OK, so safe means that the child is not in danger either physically or psychologically and they’re not afraid. So they feel safe and they are safe.

Tina: Right and stable means that the adult is predictable and consistent. The child knows what to expect and they can depend on the adult to do what they say they will.

Serena: And finally nurturing means that the child’s physical, emotional and developmental needs are being met with both consistency and sensitivity.

Tina: You might notice that there was nothing about being perfect.

Serena: Mmhm. That’s a good point. It’s not about being perfect. I think we can get a bit caught up in that, but we’re all human and we all have bad days. Showing up and being consistent is way more important than trying to be perfect.

Tina: So, this brings us back to Be the One. Any adult can Be the One for a child. And again, if you’re a parent you are likely the one for your kids and maybe other kids out there who need support. Again, teachers, coaches, relatives, people like that. And sometimes, less likely people are the one (or one of the ones) for kids. We’ve both talked before about how school nurses have been major supports for both of our kids.

Serena: Yes! Absolutely. It could also be somebody like the school bus driver who shows up every day, right? The cafeteria worker or the hall monitor. Any safe, stable nurturing adult can Be the One in a child’s life.

Tina: And now let’s move to the other part of this that we perhaps have always known to be true and also is backed up by research.

Serena: OK, so as I was researching this topic, I was really excited to read this in a publication from the CDC, “Research suggests that safe, stable, nurturing relationships between parents and other adults, in addition to those positive relationships between parents and their children, may help prevent child maltreatment from one generation to the next.”

Tina: And while that publication speaks specifically to child maltreatment, we know that when we as parents also have safe, stable, nurturing relationships with other adults, that it benefits our kids in so many different ways. This concept also comes up in the Strengthening Families and Protective Factors Framework.

Serena: Right. So, Protective Factors are essentially the strengths or characteristics of individuals, families and communities that not only mitigate risks but also build resilience in families in a strength-based way.

Tina: The five protective factors highlighted by the framework are parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need and social and emotional competence in children. So when we think about Being the One for one another and having safe, supportive, nurturing relationships, I would say that this actually touches on three of these protective factors.

Serena: Yes, I agree with that. First, social connections and then concrete support in times of need. If you have strong social connections, you will have support for yourself and your family and a network of people to look to for support and help connecting to additional resources.

Tina: Which of course brings us to resilience!

Serena: Yes! So, that was a lot of information. Hopefully we’ve convinced you that relationships are not only important, but necessary. And I think it’s something we know and it’s always validating to have research that backs this up. But what does it look like for adults to Be the One for one another?

Tina: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think there are a lot of ways in which we can do this and while the concept can seem a bit overwhelming, I don’t think it’s that complicated.

Serena: Right. Simple gestures can go a really long way. Simply showing up and offering a listening ear when we notice someone is struggling.

Tina: And of course literally “showing up”, that can be a bit complicated by COVID which we’re currently living in. But video calls and phone calls, even a text to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

Serena: Or maybe freshly baked cookies left on a front porch?

Tina: Hmmm. My specialty. Yes. That is a good way to make sure that people know that you’re thinking about them.

Serena: So again, we’ve thrown a lot of information at you today, but here are the main takeaways from today’s episode:

Tina: Every child needs at least one safe, stable nurturing relationship.

Serena: Every adult needs at least one safe, stable, nurturing relationship.

Tina: And anyone can Be the One for someone else in their life, no special credentials or qualifications required.

Serena: Right. And thank you to all of you listeners out there for Being the One for others in your life.

Tina: Absolutely. And so podcast friends, we are, as always, very grateful to all of you for listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leave a review, and subscribe and please share with others. You will also find more content on our website,

Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.

Tina: Thanks so much `for listening!

Serena: Bye!