Family First

The 5 Protective Factors to Strengthen FamiliesFamily-First

In the thick of financial stress, it’s often our natural reaction to isolate ourselves from our community, friends, and worst of all, family. Family dinners and outings often seem too stressful or expensive,taking time to just be together becomes a lot less important than getting a few more hours in at work, and after school activities,sports and recitals appear trivial compared to the mortgage.We understand. It’s hard to put family first when you’re fighting to keep your head above water. But we also know that no one ever lays on their deathbed and wishes they’d spent less time with their loved ones.Family is the building block of our society, your most prized possession and your most valuable asset. Learning to support, lean on and turn to your family in times of financial stress can actually help you get out of debt, and make the process a lot less all-consuming.

Inside are the five factors that can help you protect your family, regardless of where your wallet is.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy has identified five protective factors that can help to strengthen families going through any kind of challenging situation, financial problems included. These five protective factors are developed through small, daily changes. Nation-wide, family services centers have embraced these factors and many offer free resources to help you implement them in your home.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development. Parenting is part natural and part learned. Subscribing to a magazine or newsletter about child development, joining a parenting group, taking a parenting class at a community center or even just sitting with your child and observing what they can do and not do are all great ways to increase your level of understanding of child development, and be able to parent with more confidence and less stress.

Parental Resilience. This is essentially your ability to bounce back from challenges, and deal with the stress of daily life in a healthy way. Tiny things can make a big difference to improve your resilience: take a few moments for yourself everyday, do some physical exercise, surround yourself with supportive people and find someone you trust to talk through challenges with.

Social Connections. Healthy parents and families are connected to others. Participate in neighborhood potlucks, join a parents group, attend a church, or just set aside time every week for a phone call with somebody else. Debt will try and isolate you – don’t let it. Concrete Support. None of us are fully independent. Knowing where you can access resources and services to meet the day-today needs that arise when dealing with debt is crucial. Check out your local family resource center to find out how you can access services like subsidized childcare, help with insurance, counseling, or even a volunteer to pick up the kids from school when work won’t allow it. Dial 211 to find what organizations exist in your area to support families. There are people out there who want to help: let them.

Social and Emotional Competence of Children. It’s absolutely crucial that regardless of what happens to your budget, your children know they are loved, feel they belong, and are able to get along with others. Create solid routines for mealtimes, naps and bedtime. Routines give children a sense of security. Take time to teach your children how to deal with conflict with others, and make sure they know they can talk to you about their feelings.

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