Beliefnet
The Less-Stressed Life

When a family experiences financial problems it can create drama for parents and children.  Here are a few quick tips to help you understand how to minimize the impact of finanical stress upon your family.

#1 Understand that YOU trigger your spouse

Here is the bottom line: money is a huge issue in relationships, even in times of prosperity.  If you start to stress out over the current financial crisis, it will trigger stress in your spouse.  The research on brain imaging is clear, if one partner starts to panic over money the other is biologcally wired to have the same response.  We feed on each other’s stress.  Stress in one person will illicit it in another.  If you want to defeat this negative cycle, focus on controling your own physiological reaction to your spouse’s stress.  Rather than feed off of your husband’s stress, get rid of the fight or flight response by taking a time out from the conversation and relaxing your body.  Take a walk or a run.  Punch a punching bag.  Do anything but sit with your spouse and amp them up with your own stress response.  Once you have calmed your own adrenaline, come back to the conversation with a measured response to your fiancnial situation that focuses on solutions, not problems.  And don’t forget to count your blessings.  Even though you might be facing serious financial problems, can you identify areas of your life together where you still have blessing and favor?  Do you have your physical health?  Do you have supportive friends and family?  Do you enjoy activities together as a family?  This focus on the blessings in your life will help you avoid the negative spiral of panic or anger that you are wired to have in response to your partner.

#2 Help your Kids Cope

Let’s be clear:  your kids probably know that you are having financial problems.  Don’t lie to them about it.  That will only confuse them and might even scare them to death.  So be honest with them about the reality of the financial pinch the family is in.  But be sure not overwhelm them with specific details of the financial picture.  Your kids need to know that the family is in a complicated situation, but they don’t need any help with getting stressed out about it.  Your main message should be one of security.  “Things are tough right now, but we are going to be “O.K.”  Now, your biggest challenge when you are communicating with your children is to stay calm yourself.  It won’t work to say that everything is going to be O.K. if you are sobbing and shaking as you are talking to them.  Be calm.  Speak with confidence.  Help your kids see that there is hope and a future for the family.

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