Tell your children of your problems and let them join in the resolution process.

Life is not void of problems. Everyone and every family has problems. The key to success in relationships, families and businesses is to face problems head on and work to find a resolution. That commitment to work through problems can make the ultimate difference.

John and I have faced many challenging circumstances and events in our lives—personally, as a married couple, and in our businesses. Those problems at times seemed insurmountable. But, one by one, as we faced those problems and worked through them, we found that we were stronger on the other side—either individually or as a couple.

When the oil crisis of the early ’80s hit Oklahoma and surrounding states, we were on the verge of financial devastation. John’s young dental practice—which had been doing very well—began to struggle—and I mean struggle to survive! We discovered a painful truth: serious financial woe in a family can have a negative impact on the personal relationships of the family members. We were under so much stress: school loans, loans for starting the business, home mortgage—etc. And the income we were earning took a nose-dive. Interest rates went from 7% to 20% and it was all we could do to stay up with the interest. Paying off the principle was impossible. So, our debts became problematic. John was unhappy. I was unhappy. And our children picked up on that.

Eventually we decided that burying our heads in the sand was not the answer. Thus, we would sit down, as a family, to discuss what was happening (in child appropriate ways.) We told them that we were under pressure and were having difficulty. But, we also told them—and showed them how committed we were to working through the challenges. We faced these problems and these conversations from a place of motivation and belief in the good that would come about.

Slowly, but surely, we worked our way from near bankruptcy (and probably divorce) to a highly successful dental business and a highly successful marriage. We are so much stronger and so much wiser as a result of those trying times.

John and I were raised by parents who had grown up in the depression and survived WWII. Our fathers were WWII veterans—yes, The Greatest Generation. Our parents did not know the meaning of quit. And neither do we.

Of course, not all circumstances can resolve in the manner our situation did. But the principle of facing problems and making supreme effort to work through those problems is a truism of ‘life wisdom’ that can work for you—and for your children.

If we have passed one thing on to our children, perhaps the vision, the strength, and the fortitude to face and work through problems may be the greatest gift we have given them.