By James S. Bates, Ph.D., CFLE & Assistant Professor
This past July, Governor John R. Kasich signed Executive Order 2012-11K, which instructs state agencies to help farmers minimize the negative effects of this year’s drought. Upon request from Governor Kasich, in September of this year, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, designated 85 Ohio counties as Secretarial Disaster areas. While much of the focus of disaster relief is designed to mitigate negative financial and economic impacts, family relationships are, in the end, what is most impacted by drought.
How are family relationships affected by the drought? The logic is simple:
1. Smaller livestock and crop yields = less revenue to the farm family business and employees;
2. Less revenue to the family business and employees = reduced income to the family (possible layoffs of employees);
3. Reduced income to families = increased stress, increased possibility of depressive symptoms, decreased possibility of positive well-being, and increased tension between spouses and between parents and children
Family and Consumer Science OSU Extension personnel are here to help! We know that Ohioans are resilient, especially farm families, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of ways to address adversity before it gets the best of us. Professor Froma Walsh (2006) identified several characteristics of resilient families that may help farm families get through this tough time (see also http://fyi.uwex.edu/familyresiliency/).
• Make meaning out of adversity and challenge
• Maintain a positive outlook
• Rely on spirituality and higher power
• Be flexible to change
• Remain connected with others
• Obtain support through social and economic sources
• Communicate clear, consistent messages
• Openly share emotions
• Problem solve collaboratively
We’ve also compiled a list of informational resources to assist families with pressing issues related to family finances, family stress and crisis, family communication and conflict resolution and much more. These resources are available at our website: http://fcs.osu.edu/resources/drought.
Reference: Walsh, F. (2006). Strengthening Family Resilience. New York: Guilford Press.