All families have their share of problems and unfortunately during a crisis, family members panic. There can be any number of things that constitute a crisis for a family and some of the biggies are: using drugs, depression, self-mutilation, your child has thoughts of hurting themselves, staying out all night, sexting, death of a family member or loved one, having committed a crime, gang activity, or having underage sex. What constitutes a crisis for one family might not necessarily be a crisis for another family. So what do we do as a family to work through a crisis situation without completely having the family unit fall apart.
First of all, we should be prepared as a family before a crisis strikes. Parents should be alert to the early warning signs of the crisis. Watch for odd or unusual behaviors, lying, or in other words if your child/teen begins to act differently.
Stay calm. Losing your cool will not reassure or instill confidence in the rest of the members of the family. Yelling and screaming has never solved a single, solitary problem.
If your child or another family member is in danger then the danger must be removed immediately. This often means that the police have to be called if the situation has escalated to this point.
Work through a particular problem and do not focus on the person. Attacking or pointing the finger at a person during a family crisis is also not helpful. This just puts the person on the defensive and will most likely escalate the problem. Put your energy into solving the problem and not blaming and criticizine a person.
During a crisis, try to keep a normal routine. This is hard to do but this has a stabilizing and calming effect on all of the members of the family.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. This is a key to working through any type of family crisis. If family members shut down and don’t talk to each other than nothing ever gets solved. Give each other your undivided attention. If your child/teen needs to talk about something, then let them talk. Convey to them that you are their for him/her no matter what.
Utilize any and all resources at your disposal to work through the crisis. This could be a pastor, a therapist, other family members, support groups, friends, or your community mental health center. Work through the problem, no matter what it is with your child. Children/teens need reassurance that they are safe and loved, no matter what has happened or what they did.