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Telling your Family

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 25 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Telling Your Family

Redundancy doesn’t just affect you personally. It’s a blow to the whole family, and can have a significant effect on your life together. Telling your family about it in the right way is vital to help you all cope with the crisis together.

When Redundancy is a Possibility on the Horizon

Redundancies sometimes come out of the blue. More often, though, there are rumblings of awareness that precede the big event. Sometimes the management may give explicit warnings that redundancies may be in the offing; or the workforce may just hear through the grapevine that the company is in difficulties.

Some people are tempted to keep their partners in the dark at this stage. After all, they think, why bother them with what may turn out to be nothing more than a false alarm? But that’s usually the wrong way to look at it. If redundancy eventually comes, the blow can be softened somewhat by having prepared for it in the right way. For example, paring back on expenditures may allow you build up a bigger stock of savings to help you cope with the crisis when it comes. You could do without a holiday that year, or go somewhere more modest. You could put off big purchases like a new car or white goods items.

Your partner may also have options for bringing more revenue into the household, some of which you may not even know about. More lucrative work opportunities might be available. For example, your partner may have the chance to take up a job which pays better but is otherwise less satisfying. Perhaps the work is less pleasant or demands greater commitment. Options which would usually be turned down during normal times might now be embraced, when difficulties are in prospect.

By denying your partner information about a redundancy which may be looming, you are denying them the chance to make these adjustments, and thus offer you their support, in a timely fashion. If redundancy eventually comes crashing in, the adjustments may still be possible, but some opportunities may have disappeared, or it may take precious time to pursue them.

Giving Your Partner the Bad News

There’s a stock fictional character who, after losing his job, can’t face telling his wife, and gets up religiously each morning, puts on his suit and tie and goes out, pretending to go to work. Don’t be like that. Your partner should be told, and told promptly, but not necessarily right away. If you blurt it out in a panic over the phone just after hearing the news yourself, your partner will probably become as upset as you are. Take the time to calm down, review your situation and consider, or even begin to explore, other job opportunities with friends and acquaintances. That way, when you give your partner the bad news, you may have a hopeful possibility to report too.

If you have children, it’s usually best to wait till they’re out of the way, preferably out of the house altogether, before breaking the bad news to your partner. The discussion may become heated or emotional, and it often distresses children to see their parents in that state.

When it May Not Be Appropriate to Tell Your Partner

Although it’s usually best to keep your partner about informed about your own employment situation and prospects, there are times when greater discretion may be advisable. For example, studies have shown that stress faced by a mother during pregnancy does ultimately have an enduring impact on the baby. Children born to stressed mothers tend to be more prone to anxiety and depression themselves, even during later life.

Similarly, stress is known to play a role in weakening the body’s immune system, making a person more vulnerable to illness. If your partner is pregnant or in ill health, therefore, you may want to consider keeping them in the dark for a while, particularly if the redundancy is still only a possibility and not yet definite.

Telling Your Family – Conclusion

The experience of redundancy can have dramatically different effects on a family unit, sometimes bringing it closer together, sometimes tearing it apart. Telling your family about it in the right way is the first step towards the positive outcome.

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