Helping Others Who Have Been Retrenched

Being retrenched (or fired) from work rates as one of the major human stresses in life. Men and woman might look at retrenchment differently, but for both it remains a very unpleasant and disturbing life event to deal with.

Drastic effects on the family
For a man, being retrenched from work can really have drastic and long-lasting effects. From an economical or financial point of view, the entire family might be severely affected when the bread winner loses his income. The family unit will suffer under the stress and loss of security that is brought about by the threats and demands of such a situation. Issues like transport, change in accommodation and other life style changes may be brought about.
Constant and long term stress will certainly have an effect on the retrenched person’s health. As we know stress, ill-health and depression often go hand in hand.

Why is a retrenched person likely to become depressed?

His sense of security is gone Routine falls away
They have too much time on their hands
Constant worries about daily matters
Sense of self-worth might be affected
The family group dynamics will change
Feeling useless
Feeling ignored and isolated.

Family dynamics and the normal day-to-day routine could be severely affected if Dad is at home all day and every day. Social roles might be influenced and should be adapted. Your spouse might now be free to do household chores and tasks that he was never available for.
The wife might have to work even harder to try and compensate for the loss of an income. These changing roles are not always easy to adapt to and Dad might be filled with resentment for having to do the “unimportant stuff”. Children might also find it difficult to adjust to changing roles and might initially not know how to behave and react to these changes. A father’s passivity can be a great source of frustration to the rest of the family.
Lessen the negative effect on your family
Like all social issues, this one should also be managed as best as one can. Possible solutions would include:

Make an effort to ensure that your husband is in the job market and that he is actively working on being seen and being marketed. A specific part of the day (an hour or two) must be spent on this activity daily.
Together with your husband and children, a timetable should be drawn up where each family members has time allocated for specific activities/chores/responsibilities. Your spouse must know exactly what his role in the household is and that it will be the case for as long as he is homebound. Make a conceited effort to acknowledge and appreciate his endeavours and his effort – he must feel appreciated and valued.]
Under these circumstances family meetings might prove to be especially valuable. They can be an opportunity to vent frustration in a constructive and decent manner in order to minimise fights and arguments about silly and petty things.
Plan for fun time, leisure activities where everybody is included and allowed to enjoy and deserve time-out.
Dad must still be the figure of authority at home. This is not only good for his self-image but also for the emotional security of all family members.
Focus on and celebrate the good things in life that the family does have and try to help others that are worse off. There is nothing that boosts one’s self-esteem like helping others. You never know when that favour will be rewarded by a contact or an opportunity for a job.
Be creative, start something new – something that could possibly yield an income. Even consider the possibility of further studies like a short course to help boost your knowledge or skills basis. This might be the opportunity to discover a totally new and fresh direction in your career – the possibilities are endless.
Whatever you do, make sure you meet new people and interact with those you know, in other words “networking”.

Remember that all families go through trying times – it is how and if we stick together that will determine the strength of that family. We grow stronger and wiser when we have been through the grinding mill. Remember God is always near to help, that we must call on Him especially during tough times. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble” Ps 50:15. 
Dr Dorothy du Plessis is a Family and Marriage Counsellor, Parenting Workshop Presenter and part-time lecturer at the ICP. For counselling or enquiries about studies in Christian Psychology call 011 827 7611011 827 7611 or

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