I cannot even estimate how many recent callers fall into two discrete, and unfortunate, categories: the first are largely women calling to find out how they can better deal with the bitter resentment they have toward their husbands, because of economic stress; the second are largely men calling to find out how they can better deal with the feelings of failure as a man because of economic stress.
To the women, I say “Unless he actively burned money in the basement, gambled it away, or spent way, way, way over budget, your fears are turning into rage toward the one person you should turn to, and not on.” When they (generally) limply come back with “Yes, he spent more than we had,” and I come back with “And, didn’t you?” then the meeting is called to order.
To the men, I say, “I am heartened that you see your responsibilities so clearly, but you are letting your shock get in the way of your problem-solving skills. You see a hungry tiger in your living room, salivating over your kids. Shock sets in, and you can be depressed that you don’t have a stun gun or you can’t figure out another way around that tiger to save your family. We indulge in the shock and sadness of it all, but now it’s time to see the challenge.”
I have teenagers with small incomes from part-time jobs call, wondering if they have to “share” with their parents who are up against it. Can you imagine that? Instead of being rather excited about the ability to contribute to the family at a time of crisis, many of our teens are only looking out for “Number One.”
All cities are having charity drives not only for the holiday season, but for victims of fires and personnel layoffs due to incompetency in government and private industry. Most of the time, this issue is food, but sometimes children’s lists include iPods and laptops! Can you believe that? What have we taught our children about humble survival and retrenching when they are still focused on high-priced electronics?