Coping with Crisis in Families

COPING WITH FAMILY CRISIS

 

If you’re like me, you eat Chinese a lot better than you

speak it.  Nevertheless, you may have heard, as I have, that

the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same as that for

“opportunity”.

Anyone who has successfully negotiated a crisis knows

that this is not just wild optimism on the part of the

Chinese.  Opportunity is inherent in crisis but this is only

realized by those who can manage the changes that a crisis

brings.

Families face many types of crisis which threaten their

stability.  Conflict, divorce, economic hardship, illness,

job changes–these are just a few of the stressors that can

upset a family’s equilibrium.  The goal is adaptation.

To consider adaptation successful, a family must

maintain two essential functions:

1.  the preservation of an adequate level of

organization and unity

2.  the promotion of individual growth and development

of its members

Keeping these two requirements in view will help a

family to weather changes.  Major crises can be endured, even

turned to advantage (opportunity) if these two functions are

preserved, or, if necessary, re-established.

There are a number of coping skills a family can use to

maintain the balance between demands and resources in times

of crisis.  The McCubbin group at the University of Wisconsin

has identified five of these and there are others:

1.  Direct action to reduce the number and intensity of

demands (like refusing a job promotion that would

require a move.)

2.  Direct action to acquire additional resources (like

finding medical services for a chronically ill

member.)

3.  Maintenance of existing resources (like social ties,

doing things together to maintain group cohesion).

4.  Managing tension (exercise, play together, use

humor, express emotions).

5.  Change the meaning of the situation (lower

expectations, emphasize competence, optimism,

acceptance of what cannot be changed.)

 

 

 

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