What Costa Rica Can Teach Us About Family Values

I’m just back from Costa Rica, a small Central American country where peace of mind is a natural commodity. Visiting there felt like a breath of fresh air with it’s slow pace of life and ecological mindfulness. The country has no need for a military presence and family life is a top priority.

World events like the turmoil in the Middle East and the devastating crisis in Japan continue to impact our gas, food and transportation costs. High unemployment, compounded by foreclosures and homelessness for families, contributes to the slow economic recovery. And multi-generational households increase as families move in together to alleviate financial concerns. For many Sandwiched Boomers, the loss of retirement funds is accompanied by feeling less secure now and less hopeful about the future.

It may be hard, but find the fortitude to face the situation squarely and see this as a teachable moment. Talking with your children about what you expect from them and the limits you need to impose at this time can be eye-opening. If you’re concerned about where our society is headed, it’s time to put off immediate gratification and bring family values back to the foreground:

Don’t forget where you came from. Dig deep to find your roots and try to understand who you are and what you want. Figure out how you can care for your family and still nurture yourself. Set some concrete and specific long-range goals about what you need for you and what you want to accomplish for your family. Identify short-term objectives as you work toward achieving these, step by step.

Make family a priority. Love them and tell them so on a regular basis. Place great value on parenting, it’s one of your most important responsibilities. As knowledge is power, appreciate the transitions your own family is going through now. And get more information about how to manage change from the Internet and self-help section of your local bookstore. Talk to friends and family whose opinions you respect and who have gone through similar experiences. It’s a chance to get realistic feedback and concrete advice.

Character matters, as does your family. During these difficult times you represent hope for them. Click on “Comments” below to let us know what you’re doing to make life a little easier. And log on here Wednesday for more practical tips.

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