Families and Financial Stress in HBFT

Module Sections:

Vignette

Jill and Jeff have been living together for 2 years and they have a daughter, Nora (4). They were referred to Mary for family therapy because the neighbors reported yelling and arguing in their apartment and that they could hear the baby crying often during the day. In session, Mary attempts to get to the root of the couple's arguments. She asks them what are the top three areas that cause them stress. Jill and Jeff agree immediately: money, Nora, and money. The couple reports that they disagree on how to discipline Nora most of the time. Jill is often passive and does not like to punish her daughter for "mistakes". She often yells at Jeff for being too harsh and he in turn yells at her for being too passive. Jeff agrees that they do not need to spank Nora but he thinks that time out is appropriate for her age and that she can only learn right from wrong if she is punished for her misbehavior. They describe these mistakes and misbehaviors as coloring on the walls, throwing her dinner on the floor, hitting the babysitter, and having temper tantrums before bed. The first few sessions are focused on helping the couple make parenting decisions. Then one day Jeff and Jill confide that they are barely making ends meet and that although they do argue about Nora, most of their arguments are about money. They hoped Mary could help them understand more about how to manage their money better.