My grandmother recently faced extended stays in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility. Watching her experience pain and emotional stress was difficult. Watching the rest of my family’s reaction with each twist and turn was an emotional journey of its own. When one of us hurt, we all hurt.
Crises can tear families apart, but they can also make family ties stronger.
If family strengths could be reduced to one single quality, it would be a positive emotional connection and sense of belonging with each other. When this emotional bond is present, the family can endure almost any hardship,
DeFrain and a group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension professionals have identified family strengths using the American Family Strengths Inventory in 35 countries. A few of their suggestions for managing stress during a family crisis are to:
- Get help outside the nuclear family when needed. Others are often ready and willing to provide support. For us, it was extended family members’ visits brought great relief.
- Take life’s challenges one day at a time, and keep things in perspective. Take things one hour at a time, or perhaps, one minute at a time. When one complication led to another, the situation was more manageable when we only dealt with the immediate crisis. It had been more than a decade since a family member was in critical health- this fact reminded us we were blessed to have escaped crisis for so long.
- Adopt new roles in a flexible manner. My mom has become closer to her mother as she cares for her on a now daily basis. She’s attending classes to become the best caregiver she can be.
Our family is taking these words of advice to heart. We’re re-learning to practice appreciation and commitment as we communicate, support one another spiritually and spend meaningful time together (5 of the 6 qualities of strong families).
Our team of Family and Consumer Sciences professionals focuses on building Healthy People, Healthy Finances, and Healthy Relationships for stronger families and communities. Visit fcs.osu.edu to learn how.