Memorable Messages of Hard Times: Constructing Short- and Long-Term Resiliencies Through Family Communication

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We take a communicative and life course theory approach to understanding how resilience is constructed in families. Drawing upon interviews with 20 fathers, 16 mothers, and 23 children who dealt with financial hardship during the 1980s recession, we analyze the messages families communicated about finances when their children were young and how these messages contributed to the development of short- and long-term resiliencies. The family talk and material practices of numbers talk, tightening the belt, sidelining, and preparing, as well as general talk of resiliency, transmitted through the generations a dual-layer of resilience. The first layer involved persisting through the immediate financial crisis. The second dealt with shaping the value systems and attitudes of the younger generation in ways that taught long-term resiliencies they carried into adulthood.

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Journal of Family Communication, v. 12, issue 3, p. 189-208