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Keeping your family strong during economic downturn

Posted 3/11/2010

By Andrew Church

Economic recession and job loss not only affect family finances, but can also be detrimental to family dynamics and unity. But family members can take steps to combat stress, strengthen family ties and promote healthy problem-solving during periods of financial stress.

“The effects of recession depend on how parents handle it,” said Jackie Reilly, Child and Youth Development Specialist for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “Economic hardship can be an opportunity to show how we respond to difficult situations.”

One important step in handling tough situations is to find means to relieve the stress. Simple activities such as taking naps or breathing deeply can fight stress by combating fatigue. Reading, exercising and even playing games can take your mind off of daily stressors and give your mind time to recuperate.

According to, an interactive learning environment delivering information from Cooperative Extension experts from all over Nevada and the United States, it is also important to communicate with family members. Simple family meetings discussing current setbacks keep everyone informed and knowledgeable about the situation at hand. Family meetings also provide a means for everyone to discuss their problems and reach solutions through discussion. This form of active participation strengthens family unity despite tough times.

“Children are mindful of our circumstances, whether we know it or not,” Reilly said. “It is important we understand that and be mindful or our reactions.”

In addition to family meetings, participating in family activities is also important to building unity.

“There are a lot of things you can do with your children that don’t cost money,” Reilly said. “Watching movies and visiting the park are cost free activities that promote bonding.”

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers a number of resources for parents facing financial difficulties, including:

Another resource for ideas and strategies for families coping with the economic downturn are available at eXtension’s “Financial Crisis and Family” Web pages ( The site provides dozens of articles by Extension experts. Visitors to the site can also pose questions and get fast answers from financial and family experts from Extension offices around the country. Some questions that have already been answered include:

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