"I feel like I let my family down.” by Dr. John Manni, Psychologist
August 16, 2011 by John Manni & Doug Barton
I often hear this from clients and people who attend my workshops. Many will say things like, “They counton me for everything,” “We can’t afford to do the things I’d promised,” “I’m a failure if I can’t give my family everything they need.”
Before you bury yourself in blame and guilt, it is important to evaluate your thinking. Today there are approximately 14 million unemployed. Are they all failures? If you want to help your family, you will have to start by getting your thinking on the right track. It is more accurate to realize you are caught up in tough times beyond your control. Think realistically. “This will be tough, but not impossible.” “As a family we can survive.” If you take a look at other posts in our blog you will find lots of tips that can help with your negative feelings. Most importantly, remember a family is a system. What affects one member will affect the others. The adjustment of family members will, to some extent, depend on your how well you adjust.
Start by discussing the situation with your spouse. Your feelings should be part of the discussion. Honesty is the best policy. Trying to hide your feelings will not work and will color your attempts to communicate. Share with your wife/husband your job search strategy. She/he may have good suggestions. Make a plan to deal with finances and set up a time to talk to your children. An important part of your discussion should also include what your family can do for fun. Make a list of activities that are free or relatively inexpensive. Activities might include hiking, renting a movie, visiting state parks, etc. Remember, whatever you do need not cost a lot of money. The quality of time spent together is what counts.
When approaching children, tailor what you say to their age. Yhe younger the child, the simpler you should mak the explanation. It is not necessary to get into all the nuts and bolts, even for teenagers. Simply stating the facts is best. Of course, answer their questions honestly.