I was in Dallas on Monday, May 4 to make a presentation on strengthening families in times of crisis. Gathered in the room were people who have recently lost their jobs and find themselves looking for new work in a very tough environment. This gathering, of course, was a snapshot of millions of people all over the U.S. and in many parts of the world due to the economic crisis that has gripped us.
Being out of work and looking for work can have a troubling impact on families. The mounting stress, pressure and worries often impact a person’s ability to be the kind of spouse or parent they would like to be. Communication might break down. Fighting or quarrels might increase in your relationships. And family members might feel neglected, scared or withdrawn.
In such situations, I counsel people to remember who are the most important people in their lives and what matters most to them Yes, being out of a job might have you in a crisis, but your family is your most precious possession. So what can you do to strengthen your family in times of trouble?
There are three things that I encourage everyone to do with their families in good times or bad:
- Write a family mission statement—identify what kind of family you want to be. For instance, what qualities define your family, what kinds of feeling do you want in your home, how do you want to build relationships? Get everyone involved in these questions and write something that describes your family and how you want to be.
- Hold weekly family meetings—gather your family once a week to talk about issues, problems or good things in your family. Refer to your mission statement to see how you are doing. Enjoy this time together; do something fun.
- Remember the emotional bank account—similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your family relationships. Make a conscious effort to make meaningful deposits in your relationships. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and correct the mistake.
As you do these things, you will find your relationships strengthened in your family. You will take control of your life and your family’s life rather than being tossed away by the storms of problems or crises that come your way. With a strong family, you will be more effective in your job search and your family will be your greatest source of strength and support.
For more ideas on strengthening families you may interested in reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families or other good books on the subject.
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