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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Your Stress Affects Your Kids Too

I hesitated to write this post because I am no authority on the subject.  But I am concerned about our nation and the state of our citizens.  But if this brief post will serve as a reminder to even one person to consider that how they cope affects others, than it will be worth it.

I have a very simplistic analogy.  My dog is better behaved on the weekends than during the week.  You may scoff and wonder what that has to do with anything.  But it directly relates to my point.

My dog behaves better on the weekend because I have had several hours to detox from the high stress of the day job.  I am calmer.  She is calmer.

My point?  This has been an abysmally bad year for a tremendous amount of people.  Our nation is unstable.  Many people have lost jobs.  Lost homes.  Employers are cutting back on employees benefits and on staffing.  Our mental and health insurance is in an abysmal state.  And that's only some of the very serious issues facing us as a nation.  And it doesn't look any better for next year.

If you're an adult trying to weave your way through this nightmare, it will be difficult for you not to be affected.  But what affects you will affect your kids.  Families are being torn apart for some or all of the above reasons plus many more.  Our families are experiencing tremendous strain.

How you handle that strain doesn't affect just you.  If you have kids, or even if it's one spouse to another, talk to them.  I can imagine that many people choose to keep their worries to themselves, not wanting to alarm the spouse and/or children.  But believe me, they already know something is wrong.  Talk to them.  In the case of kids, reassure them.  Your life may seem like it's spinning out of control, but your kids still need a stabilizing force in their lives.  If you're thinking they're going to get that at school, think again.  Many of those students and their families are suffering too.

Why do I bring this up now?  As I said, I have no authority to speak on the subject. I'm not a PhD, MD, MA, LCSW or any other batch of initials you can name.  But I do work in the behavioral health field, supporting those who support the patients.  More importantly, I'm hurting for the many hurting people out there.  And this year, more than any other year since I've worked in this field, I've seen an extraordinarily high level of suffering.

I wish I had answers.  Even those of us who are people of faith know only that God will see us through to the end, but He doesn't promise to make it all smooth sailing. Life is hard.  Which makes it all that much more important to use whatever support system we have in place, be it spouse or other relatives, friends, etc.  And to be aware that those closest to us are picking up on our cues, whether we think we're hiding them or not.

In the meantime, I pray that the hard times will ease, people will find their balance, and that 2012 will see an easing of burdens.

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