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Parenting Tips for Tough Financial Times
By Karen Sell
Parenting is tough in the best of times but today the signs of economic crisis are everywhere. A crashing stock market, failing companies, huge layoffs and lost homes. How can families cope? Survive?
Dr. Kelley Brigman, author of Marriage: A Simple Guide to Success, says we can learn important lessons from families that beat the odds during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He makes the following recommendations:
* Remember you and your spouse are on the same team. Many depression-era families were torn apart by the financial stresses. But some remained strong even when the going got tough. When husbands and wives work together, even hardships can strengthen their relationship. Spend some time together every day. Be patient and support one another.
* Develop reasonable expectations. No husband or wife can solve all problems and heal all wounds. But couples can comfort and encourage one another as they deal with the misery financial problems can cause. Never underestimate the power of a hug.
* Develop shared goals. Decide what is most important for the family. Write your three most important goals and post them where everyone can see them daily. These goals will become guiding principles to help you focus on your priorities as you make decisions. Families get stronger when people work together toward common goals.
* Be willing to make sacrifices. The strongest families during the Great Depression were willing to make sacrifices for the good of the family. Strong families will identify ways each family member can help, from carpooling to cutting back cell phone minutes to changing holiday plans. Talk together about how even young children can help with simple things like turning off lights in empty rooms. When all family members are giving, they create an abundance of comfort and support for everyone.
* Give up unnecessary spending. Invincible families learn to be happy without spending a lot of money and buying things. It may help to keep a log of expenditures for a month so everyone can learn where the money is really going. Learn to be happy with less.
* Be adaptable. Be willing to do whatever is necessary to keep your family going. During the Great Depression women and adolescents often became the major breadwinners in their families because they could often get jobs when men could not. Families that could not adapt were torn apart.
* Be Proactive. Manage the resources you have as effectively as possible. If you are over your head in debt, try to negotiate new terms and payments. Consider working with a financial counseling agency. Some non-profit agencies offer programs to help families manage debt at little or no cost. If you are behind on payments, let your creditors and landlords know you are trying and when you will pay them.. Try to improve at least one thing every day.
* Focus on solutions. If you find yourself worrying about your financial woes, turn your thinking to what you can do to solve problems. It’s a good time to look ahead and keep an eye on your dreams.