Dealing with stress and crisis as a family

Strong families also experience stress, conflict and crisis. However, they have developed decision making and problem solving skills to deal with the challenges, changes and choices they face every day.

Problem solving and decision making skills help families deal with the common challenges that most families face. But sometimes the challenges seem so overwhelming that our ordinary strategies do not seem to help. Hamilton McCubbins, a researcher who has extensively studied families in crisis, says that people can handle problems as long as they perceive ways to solve them. When people no longer know what to do they reach a crisis point.

A crisis is an unexpected event that impairs family strengths and weakens normal coping strategies. This can be a devastating time for strong families and requires family members to pull together to overcome the distress. Even though crisis can seem overwhelming, there are also opportunities to grow. It is not always the nature of the crisis but the manner in which the family deals with it.

Michigan State University Extension has some strategies that can help your family deal with a crisis:

  1. Focus on the positive: A crisis can be devastating but it can also be a turning point. Strong families are able to find something positive in a crisis situation. This doesn’t happen overnight, it can take time. Being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel gives people hope.
  2. Pull together as a family: Strong family members unite to face the challenges of a crisis. Family members should ask what they can do to help.
  3. Seek help from outside the family: Strong families are a special unit but they are not isolated from others. Strong families seek help when they need it and give it when others need it.
  4. Draw on spiritual resources: Strong families have their beliefs and faith in their way of life and they use this belief to sustain them during times of crisis.
  5. Stay flexible and keep family adaptability: Strong families are resilient and able to retain their structure in the face of high pressure. However, strong families are also flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions.

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