Three Steps For Family Stability m15.jpg

In addition to the tips for dealing with your family members' powerlessness and the rising tensions in your household, there are steps you should take to maintain a stable and positive domestic life while you're unemployed. These actions fall into three main categories: communicating, establishing a new role for yourself, and maintaining normality.


Communicating

Open and honest communication is a critical part of helping your family through the trauma of your job loss. PIT "pacesetters" - those who rebound from unemployment most quickly and successfully - typically make their spouses (and sometimes their children) partners in their reemployment efforts.

  • They gently tell their family members that they've lost their jobs as soon as it happens so they don't learn about it from another source, like a sympathetic former co-worker who calls the house to make sure they're all right.
  • Also, during their job search, they update their spouses and children as much as possible without alarming them.
Family members can pat you on the back, act as coaches and cheerleaders, and help you celebrate your accomplishments while you're out of work. However, you need to separate your personal family life from the job search.
  • Try not to let the reemployment process "spill" into family time.
  • Encourage family members to not grill take the role of taskmasters.
  • Instead, find a buddy to ask how many letters you've sent out, when you plan to make follow-up phone calls, and the like.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Don't ever assign the "bad-guy" role to your spouse or kids.
Encourage your family members to share their feelings with you, too.
  • Your spouse, children, and other relatives may want to soften the blow of your unemployment and hide their fears, frustrations, and disappointment.
  • It's your job to gently ally their fears with kindness and sensitivity.
  • Don't let them suffer silently.
  • Do "what-ever-it-takes " to keep the channels of communication open.


Establishing a New Role for Yourself

While you're out of work, you need to redefine your responsibilities

  • This is especially important in a two-household family.
  • If your spouse is away all day, it might make sense for you to take on his or her domestic chores.
  • PIT members often use their free time to cook dinner, get the dry cleaning, shop for groceries, pick their kids up from the daycare center, drive their children to after-school events, and the like.
However, your reemployment efforts must come first.
  • Finding a new job is your full-time job.
  • Be sure that all family members are clear about their expectations and reassignments of household duties. Don't assume more than your fairly-adjusted share of responsibilities out of a misguided guilt or shame about the fact that you're unemployed because, ultimately, that could sabotage your job search.
Always remember the vital importance of keeping your reemployment actions separate from family life.
  • You can't look for a job twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week!
  • Make time to be a parent, spouse, and part of the family.
  • When you're finished with the day's job-hunting efforts, leave it behind so you can fully participate in whatever's on your family's agenda.


Maintaining Normality

Unemployment affects virtually every aspect of your life:

  • Your daily routines
  • Social interactions
  • Steady income
  • Community standing
  • And a host of other things you probably took for granted before the ax fell.
All of the above and many other things have vaporized along with your career. In the face of that, how can your family life go on as before?
  • Expect practical changes in your household to accommodate your new financial realities. But you don't have to sacrifice your family's mental health or sense of security in the process. Work hard at protecting the normality of your life.
  • Don't make any major life decisions, such as moving to a less expensive house, selling your assets, and the like, until the dust has settled.
  • A defeatist attitude won't solve your monetary problems either. Proactive efforts to preserve critical aspects of your family's life will.
  • Let your lenders, creditors, and utility companies know that you've lost your job and negotiate temporary payment plans with them. Stress your intention to pay your debts in full as soon as you can. You may run into stumbling blocks, but your persistence will likely pay off.

It did for me. In my case, I was able to get a forbearance agreement that entitled me to pay a fraction of my mortgage until I went back to work. But that happened only after a clerk had repeatedly deflected my request to work out a temporary repayment plan with a stern warning that, if I missed a payment, the bank would foreclose on my property. Only after I wrote the bank's president a letter detailing my dilemma did I receive a phone call from an executive assistant who was willing (and, fortunately, empowered) to work out a deal with me.

┬ęCopyright 2008 Professionals In Transition Support Group, Inc.


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