Parents in 16 families of children with autism spectrum disorders or Down syndrome participated in a qualitative study examining family (i.e., all caregivers in the home) belief systems. All families had children who had recently entered elementary school or who were in the early years of high school. As a result of their experiences, families reported becoming more certain about what matters. Families adopted perspectives of optimism, acceptance, and appreciation, and of striving to change the environment or to meet their children's needs as well as possible. These perspectives provided families with a sense of hope, meaning, and control over their situations. The findings indicate the strengths and resilience of families in the face of life's adversities. Implications for families and service providers are discussed.