In 2009, my husband was laid off his job. Things were good for the moment. I went and found a job and he stayed home with our son. He later found another job and was laid off again, but this time things were really rough. We called our home loan lender to inform them that some adjustments needed to be made. After many phone calls, emails and letters, nothing was done to reduce that mortgage. Even though we had never missed a mortgage payment for the last four years, there was no “help” as was assumed to be available. Eventually, we had no choice, but to seek employment out of state and leave our house. It was definitely an eye-opening experience having to downsize from having a to a . From shopping at a regular grocery store to going to the . On top of all that, I was a few weeks pregnant with our 2nd child. That's an OMG moment!
Like many families, this story may sound familiar. Tensions can definitely rise as downsizing transitions take place. Only so many families, especially parents, can weather through the storm of unemployment and sustain the family unit. In times like these it is essential for parents to not completely lose it. When I say lose it, I mean completely break down and leave their family all together because of the stress that comes with downsizing.
As we were downsizing, I had to keep in mind that my house is not my family. The things that you own do not define you or your family. I know these words are easier to say than to believe, but it's true. The things that you own do not define you... Like a woman who wears a pair of , they are merely accessories of your family. They look nice and they definitely make a statement, but those things are just that... things. As parents, we desire a certain lifestyle for our children. Preferably a house with plenty of room, a private backyard, and of course a safe, loving neighborhood. But when the American “dream” is suddenly taken from you the only thing you can do is dream again and be grateful that you have a family to dream with.
If you are a parent and have to start downsizing due to financial constraints, I encourage every parent to remember the following:
Don't Keep Secrets: The earlier you tell your family the truth the better they will be able to cope with the new reality. I've heard stories of husbands getting behind on mortgages and not telling the family until the shows up. Keep drama to a minimum by being honest and open with your family.
Tears Are Your Friend: Nothing like a good cry to put things in perspective. I'm not a doctor, but I truly believe God gave us tears in order to relieve pressure in our bodies. So go ahead and have your own personal pity party and let those tears flow. And after your done, dust yourself off and develop a plan.
Look on the Bright Side: Things could always be worse than right now. Someone, some parent, some family, is going through a worse situation than what you are going through right now. That is one of the main things that helped me stay sane during our downsizing. I kept thinking that things could be worse. And because I didn't want things to get worse, I became grateful for what we did have and stopped stressing over what I wanted us to have.
Empathize with the Children: Depending on the type of children you have they may have a optimistic attitude or a pessimistic one. Either way validate their emotions. They feel the loss just like you, so try not to dismiss their feelings, unless they are being downright disrespectful (ex. an angry teenager). And as we all know there are some disrespectful teens out there. Either way validate their feelings and answer their questions.