How to Protect Your Family in the Face of Uncertainty

Elaine King

It’s not unusual for the stock market to gain or lose hundreds of points over the course of a day or two. The thrill of a good day can also put your nerves on edge, wondering if you should sell or wait and see how much more you can gain.

Similarly, family life can also be unpredictable. The birth of a child turns the parent’s world upside down in an instant, bringing both joy and exhaustion. Fights, divorce, illness, unemployment, vacations, graduations, and more, all pepper family life with joyful and challenging situations. 

It’s clear: Both the stock market and family life are very unpredictable. However, despite this similarity, to manage the uncertainty of each, you need different approaches. To manage your portfolio, you can invest, use graphs and measurements, diversify, and more. But, what are you doing to manage the unpredictability of family life, a much more valuable asset?

How to Plan for Uncertainty in the Family

It’s easy to take family for granted. However, it’s not advisable. Why? Because life tends to throw curveballs that can easily send your family life into turmoil. Just like you actively strive to reduce your risk when investing in the stock market, you should take steps to stabilize your family life. Here are 3 ways you can plan for uncertainty and give your family greater stability:

1. Emergency Fund 

Financial stress can affect the family in a negative way. Did you know that 1 in 10 parents can’t meet basic needs and 25% can only barely meet basic needs? According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, financial stress can have serious physical and psychological consequences that can even result in divorce or poor relationships between parents and children. 

To avoid these devastating consequences to job loss, a medical emergency or unforeseen business expenses and more, it’s wise to set up an emergency fund. Ideally, this fund would cover 6 months of living expenses. This fund can help families avoid digging into other savings that might be designated for putting a down payment on a house or a vacation. 

In addition to your emergency fund, you might want to have a financial emergency plan just like you might have one in case of a fire or another natural disaster.

2. Communicate

When everything’s going well, communication can be easy. However, you especially need good communication within the family when facing a crisis. 

You might need professional help you to learn how to communicate effectively. A family coach can make this happen! Whether it’s finances, an illness, or stress that has you fighting, good communication can help you work through it all. 

Working on your communication skills results in many benefits for your family’s stability.
In fact, “researchers have discovered a strong link between communication patterns and satisfaction with family relationships.”

Communication skills and routines can help broach difficult topics such as money, illnesses, and other life changes and challenges. Here are 3 helpful tips for better communication:

  • Use “I” statements. Instead of accusing the other person, say how you feel. For example, “I feel ignored and unimportant when you get home late without calling ahead.”
  • Paraphrase what the other person said. After you’ve heard your family member talk, don’t respond with what you think. Instead, make sure you’ve understood by paraphrasing what they’ve told you.
  • Use routines. Don’t assume you’ll have time to talk later, schedule in designated time for talking. Whether you have family dinners, a monthly finances check-in, or a regular meeting among siblings to discuss the care of aging parents, dedicating time will make sure the important topics are addressed.

3. Create Family Culture 

Make a positive, strong family culture that can weather the storms. Part of this involves acknowledging both past and future generations and their contributions, skills and abilities. For example, some family members might be the organizer who always plans get-togethers. Others might give great financial advice, be the breadwinner, initiate community service projects, or cook. 

Culture also involves family stories, jokes, traditions, etc. While they may seem trivial, when facing a crisis, the family’s culture can act as the glue to hold everything together.


The family is the most valuable asset in your life, yet it is also the most vulnerable to change and hardship. A proactive approach using the above tips can make sure your family is stable and ready for whatever life throws your family’s way. An emergency fund, strong communication skills and a positive culture serve as the roots that keep your family grounded, and together through thick and thin.


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Virginia State University


American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

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Elaine King - Family and Money Matters™ 2021