When changes occur in the family, they affect all members of the family. Family relationships, goals, values and those things necessary for the existence of the family are often affected by the changes. At the time of such changes, effort has to be made to help everyone make adjustments or repairs and move on. You need to know these situations or crises and how to adjust to them.


Meaning of family crisis

A family crisis is a situation that marks a turning-point, when things cease to go on as usual in the family. One of such situation is a crisis and two or more situations are crises. A crisis is a change in the normal way of life of the family. Crisis can be challenges. They need to be managed properly.


Different types of family crisis

Family crisis includes: arrival of a new baby, clashes of personality, relocation of family, change of job/new employment, loss of job/ employment, divorce, problems at school, crop failures and declining markets, illnesses, accidents and death.


A) Arrival of a new baby:

The arrival of a new baby is normally a joy to the family but it can also be a source of crisis in the following ways:

  1. The father may feel neglected as mother turns all her attention to the baby.
  2. Other children may also feel neglected and become jealous.
  3. Arrival of new a baby means more pressure on family resources, e.g. more money will be needed for the baby’s needs.
  4. It means more demand on the mother’s time and energy.
  5. Everyone in the family is affected by the 24-hour-a-day job of taking care of the baby.


Management strategy/ ways of managing the crisis

  1. The family should plan and prepare properly before each new baby arrives.
  2. The father and older children should be involved in some aspects of child care.


B) Clashes of personality

Family members differ in their abilities, likes and dislikes. They also differ in the ways they react to situations. Some are fast while others are slow. In spite of all the differences they are expected to agree with each other and work together in harmony. However when they disagree seriously there may be clashes in personality. Family crisis may occur.


Ways of managing include:

  1. Family should set family values, life styles, goals and standards. These should be made known to each member, so that they can work together.
  2. Where individuals have different value systems, the other members should know that. The family must agree on how to accommodate such values.
  3. Family rules should be acceptable to all members.


C) Relocation of family

Sometimes a family may have to move from the community, town or state where they live to another. They have to get used to their new location, meet new people, attend new schools, find out new shopping centers, churches, mosque, hospitals, etc. These situations are sources of crisis.


Ways of managing include:

  1. Have a positive attitude.
  2. Give the new community and people a chance.
  3. Join a local group, such as, youth club for children, church group for adults. This will enable you meet new people.
  4. Learn as much as possible about the new community.


D) Change of Job/ Employment

Many people change jobs several times during their careers. Homemaker/wife or mother who was not working before might get a job. Such work-related changes can affect a family in a number of ways. For instance:

  1. It can bring changes in income that requires adjustment and decisions about spending.
  2. Family members may have to take on new responsibilities, in order to keep the household running smoothly.


E) Loss of job/employment

When a family member especially the breadwinner, loses his job, a serious crisis results. Loss of job could be as a result of unexpected retirement, retrenchment, redundancy, when the establishment is distressed and folds up. In such situations family needs can no longer be met. For instance, education of the children can come to a sudden end.


Ways of managing the job-related crises

  1. Family goals will need to be reviewed.
  2. Alternative employment must be sought.
  3. Family members may have to take on new responsibilities.


F) Divorce

Divorce means the break-up of a marriage. This is one of the most serious crises in any family. It is even more serious when children are involved and parents disagree over custody. Custody is the legal responsibility of housing and caring for children. Divorce has negative effects on husband and wife, children and in-laws.


Ways of managing this crisis

  1. The family members need to find ways of adjusting wherever they find themselves.
  2. Parents need to agree on how to help the children.
  3. Children should be allowed to communicate with parents.
  4. Counselling can help.


G) Problems at school

Some children have different problems in schools. Such problems include: examination malpractices, failure in examination, truancy, participating in cult activities, suspension and expulsion. These create crises in families. There is often tension, anxiety, strain and stress.


Ways of managing the crisis

  1. Parents should show understanding towards children.
  2. There should be open communication among parents, children and school.
  3. The causes of the problems must be identified.
  4. Solutions to the problems must be sought.
  5. It might be necessary to find a new school for the child.


H) Crop failures, Declining markets and Natural Disasters.

  1. Crop failures could mean that a farming family lost part or all their crops in a given farming season.
  2. Declining market could mean that a particular commodity or business on which the family bread winner is dealing has stopped to sell.
  3. Natural disasters include floods, droughts, hurricanes, land slides, erosion, and fire.
  4. Burglary means loss of possessions to robbers.

Any of these can happen to a family and lead to crisis.


Ways of managing include:

  1. Change of business.
  2. Relocation of family.
  3. Review of family goals.
  4. Appeal to government or relevant bodies for support.
  5. Determination to survive and hard work by family members.


I) Illnesses and Accidents

A serious illness or accident can greatly disrupt family life and lead to crisis. Family members are naturally worried and upset to see someone they love suffer. They feel helpless and frustrated when they cannot ease that person’s pain. Prolonged illness or accident can also take a lot of family money, leaving the family poor or in debt.


Ways of managing include:

  1. Members should find strength in each other or their religious faith.
  2. Family members should share feelings.
  3. They should also share responsibilities.
  4. They should show love and support to their sick one.


J) Death of a family member

Death is traumatic. It causes severe emotional shock. The death of a family member may shatter the lives of the other members. For instance, the death of the breadwinner could mean the loss of hope for children’s education.


Ways of managing with the crisis:

  1. Each family member should take responsibility for the things he/she can do, for instance preparing meals, taking care of the younger children.
  2. Each member should participate in events, such as a funeral or memorial service.
  3. Family should spend more time together and encourage each other.
  4. The family may have to change or modify some of the family goals.


Other general strategies (or ways of) for managing family crisis

  1. Cooperation: All family members should cooperate to share the good times and crisis times.
  2. Communication: Family members should share feelings and problems with each other through communication. When family members communicate properly they can find solutions to their problems.
  3. Follow family routines as much as possible: The family should try to continue to do some of the things they have always done, in spite of the crisis.
  4. When it is necessary and possible family can always seek help from outside: For instance, when a child has problem in school the parents can ask for advice of school authorities. In case of illness the family should seek advice from qualified medical personnel.
  5. The family should be adaptable to changes which may come with crises: They should be flexible and adjust their lifestyles to fit the changes they are passing through. For instance, if a father and husband, who is the head of family and breadwinner, loses his job, the wife who has never taken up a paid employment may have to look for a job. When she starts working certain ways of running the home may be modified.

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