Families Adjust to Economic Crisis

Economic crises impact families–sometimes positively, sometimes not.  An article in yesterday’s The Christian Science Monitor explores this issue.  One of the most staggering statistics noted in the article is the “gender disparity” in job losses.  According to the author, never before in the history of this country have more men been out of the workforce.   The experts cited note that this situation will profoundly change how America does “family.”

One of those experts said,  “If it weren’t so sad for so many families, this would be an incredible social experiment.”   Social experiments involving our nation’s and our state’s best natural resource–families–don’t have a good track record, as evidenced by no-fault divorce laws enacted during the 70’s.  The last thing we need is yet another “social experiment” involving the family.

The couples interviewed seem to be dealing with the changes this recession has brought to their families’ lives.  In all the cases cited, the husband became unemployed, and the wife had to either find a job or increase her hours.  These dads seem to be enjoying and appreciating the extra time with their children, getting to know them and connecting with them, which is good.   We certainly need dads to spend more time with their kids, but we aren’t sure what getting that time through this type of scenario will mean long-term for families.

We speculate that these marriages might be managing the crisis because they were likely strong marriages to begin with.  Crises don’t make our character;  they reveal our character.

Interestingly, one would think divorce rates would go up during these challenging financial times; however, at least some studies are showing the opposite.  Divorce in the best of economic situations is expensive; in the worst of economic situations, it is cost prohibitive.  We hope this situation reinforces what studies show:  that if married couples who are unhappy will just hold, even with no intervention, 5 years down the road, two-thirds of those couples will still be married and will view themselves as a happy couple.

The bottom line is the trickle-down of this economic debacle is phenomenal and we will be years sorting through the damage and changes.

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