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ECONOMIC CRISIS: PARENTS

Loss hurts and frightens us. Even thinking about potential future loss is terrifying.

Everybody is hurting now or worried about the future because of the economic crisis. The losses strike at the heart of every family: job loss, losing your home, meltdown of retirement dollars, loss of college financial aid, loss of financial independence in aging parents. It’s a long and heart-wrenching list.

Parents have one more job to do is these times of loss and uncertainty. We must find ways to hold ourselves together so we can keep our family strong.

This difficult journey starts with taking care of yourself, so you will be there for others. Think about what the flight attendant says during the safety briefing: “If there‘s a sudden loss in cabin pressure put the mask on yourself first, then assist your child or others.” If you’re no OK it’s difficult to help others.

Here are some suggestions for taking care of yourself:

1) STAY HEALTHY

You need to keep or get yourself into good shape, physically and emotionally.

Practice the Five E’s:

* Exercise daily even if it’s only a 15 minute walk.

* Eat right because junk food is poison to a stressed body.

* Eliminate poisons like cigarettes and alcohol.

* Estimate your flash point and before you explode, use stress-busting techniques like deep breathing, imaging yourself in a peaceful place, muscle-tensing and relaxing.

* Elevate your spirits by looking within. We all have inner strength. It may seem to vanish when we are worried but it IS there. (I find mine by making a list of what’s gone and what I still have. Then I try to find ways to strengthen myself focusing on what I still have.)

2) STAY CONNECTED

Don’t stop talking to family and friends, don’t feel so ashamed about your losses that you can’t face people. Reach out to others who are suffering, it not only helps them but you will feel better.

It’s especially important to stay connected to your family. Sometimes we disappear so deep into our own misery that we don’t even look up to see our loved ones. It’s OK to hide under the covers and weep once in a while but not all day long. Set the timer for five minutes and let out all the grief. Then get up and be with the others you love.

3) SEEK HELP

Allow others to help you. Give them the gift of reaching out by asking for help. Sad to say but when unemployment rises so does domestic violence and child abuse. Don’t take your frustrations out on a spouse or child. If you feel at the end of your rope seek counseling help immediately.

4) BE CREATIVE

In tough times there are creative ways to make things go better for you and your family. Money tight? Barter, exchange services like baby sitting, form a food-purchasing co-op so you can buy in bulk. Thrift is a word rarely used these days but its fun to be creatively thrifty and see how much you can cut expenditures and still be happy. Window shop once in a while. It is a good change of pace from worrying about where on earth you will put all the stuff you bought in the old days! Can’t afford new books? Your library is waiting to help you and your children find reading material.

5) TURN OFF THE TV

Hearing the same economic news 24/7 does not help. Turn on some quiet classical music to soothe your savage thoughts. Have family reading hours, family songfests, picnics on the living room floor. No cost.

This ParenTip has dealt with ways to keep yourself in shape as a person even when things are tough. Part II deals with how you can and should help your children.

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