Families Coping With Job Loss

QUESTION: How are families coping with job loss?


It is common for us to connect ourselves with work and that is why families coping with job loss often have a difficult time. Social scientists consider the terms work, employment, and job as distinctive. Work is a particular task, something we do such as housework or volunteering. Employment is the time we spend doing something for wages. A job is the position within a company.

When people think of unemployment, their concerns extend beyond money for food and housing. This is why it is so painful when a person loses his or her job. Our position or job provided status and a social life where relationships were formed. In many cases, an unemployed person suddenly feels that they are unproductive, even failing to meet their family's needs.

How are families coping with job loss at home? One father commented, "When I got laid off, I felt like I lost part of myself." Losing a job affects all family members. Parents frequently become so preoccupied they forget unemployment has an emotional, as well as financial impact on their children. Children rely on their parents for emotional stability. When parents are tense, irritable, or inattentive, much of this security is gone.

Attitudes and communication have a great impact on how a family copes with job lost. Because expenses affect the whole family, talk with your children about your situation. Let them know each family member will need to change their spending practices. Involve them in determining a budget (entertainment, dining out). When family members understand the tough choices that must be made and have a voice in making those decisions, they are more willing to accept the changes. Difficult times come to almost everyone, but the Bible reminds us that ". . .God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

How are families coping with job loss and staying positive? As your family talks about what is most important, be sure to listen to one another. Supporting each other can help you pull together as a family and get through tough times. Families that quickly make changes in their spending habits will be more satisfied, knowing their spending is not out of control. A positive attitude and spirit is crucial. Seeing things from God's point of view can make all the difference. Paul endured severe hardships, knowing "what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Philippians 4:12).

Finding the "secret of being content" in the midst of unemployment is not as difficult as one might believe. Unemployment allows a parent to be home more. One father took advantage of his time off to interact with his children. Instead of spending money on summer camp, the father shared his woodworking, camping, and sports interests with his children. During their conversations, the children were encouraged to come up with inexpensive activities: backyard obstacle course, bicycle parade, and costume contest. Even after many years, the children (now adults), still recall the joy of when "Dad stayed home with us."

How are families coping with job loss and becoming rich? It's important to share our material needs and concerns with trusted friends and relatives. A family is often overwhelmed by the love and support that God provides through others. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Most people can identify with losing a job and will offer encouragement and support. As you receive from others, you will discover ways to give to others as well. Your abilities, experience, and gifts can be used to form new relationships, to explore new opportunities, and to be rich in good deeds. Joblessness is not hopelessness. Do not "hope in wealth, which is so uncertain. . .put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).

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