Recession threatens family harmony - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

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Recession threatens family harmony

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Posted: Friday, March 5, 2010 12:00 am

He’s been out of work too long and his new job, paying one-half what he normally earns, will barely keep his family fed. Her job provides small assistance. Their house is already in the bank’s sights for foreclosure.

Stress rocks their home, fueled to intensity by trouble with the teenagers. They all feel it. At some point, every one of them experiences the fight or flight urge.

And thus it is across the East Valley, which has been financially rocked on a level nearly unequalled in the nation.

Philosophers have much to say about the struggle of life, but it’s as simple as this: Most of us spend it looking for love and money and are then surprised when the two collide at home base.

Karen Peterson with USA Today warns: “To some people, money means power. To others, love. For some, the topic is boorish, for others it’s more private than sex. Add family dynamics and you have the subject from hell.” Most of us witness that truth. Tragic isn’t it, that dollars are more powerful than love – that the greenback can undercut the driving force on this planet?

Even the fact that more women than not are on a payroll and contribute financially to a marriage hasn’t fixed the problem. Peterson’s right, love (family) and money rarely mix, at least in a healthy way.

Something interesting: During these times, statistics show fewer divorces. People can’t afford the upheaval so hanging in there takes the default position. But, that’s not much comfort with an already high divorce level in the USA. The rate generally hovers between 40 and 50 percent of first marriages and much higher if you’re on your second or third round.

Look. The real truth is loving relationships don’t cost anything. Never have. I know many cynics will argue the point, yeah, yeah. But, do yourself a favor and consider every cliché describing the simple acts of love and inject them into this day and all days forward.

Family is the most daunting thing we do. In fact, author, therapist David H. Olson says, “All problems either begin or end up in a family.” Don’t we know? And, considering that the makeup of the family is becoming more complex, what was tough is getting tougher.

You knew it would come back to individual, hard work. It always does, but there’s opportunity here to fix what’s broken. Olson warns, “You either win together or lose together.”

Winning is worth it and here’s why: The kids. They are our souls. They can motivate us to do what we won’t do for ourselves. Statistics are buried in proof that children suffer the most from parental stress and divorces. Then, they go on to repeat the same.

What if life were all about the kids? What if every decision we make is about their well-being? What if adults practice tough love on themselves; stop taking hard times out on the kids; rework the family budget and live within it?

Use today’s trials as a starting point. Keep trying. With family, we have it all. We can get through anything – together.

 

Linda Turley-Hansen is a former Phoenix TV news anchor and Arizona syndicated columnist living in the East Valley. Contact her at turleyhansen@gmail.com.

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