LO and Big Layoffs LO5374

Virginia I. Shafer (vshafer@AZStarNet.com)
Sun, 4 Feb 1996 23:59:49 -0700

Replying to LO5306 --


Wow, are you going through an AHA! or what?

You wrote:

>...At that point, I realized what was troubling
>me was that we have defined our system too narrowly. This is not about
>WORK, it's about LIFE.
>When I put this question of employer loyalty into the "LIFE" perspective,
>I have a lot of questions, mostly with troubling answers. For example,


>My intuitive answer to all of these questions is not favorable, but I
>would love to hear from experts.
>My guesses are as follows: Kids need stability at certain times of their
>lives. Kids tend to resort to "cool" -- but destructive -- strategies to
>gain quick acceptance in a new environment. Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes,
>sex, and so forth. Family stress increases exponentially when one of the
>earners has to move away to get work. Migratory people are far less
>likely to invest of themselves in the community. School systems have huge
>logistical and socialization problems when there is a large nomadic
>What do others think?

I couldn't help but read into your questions some situations that might be
happening in your life. I also wouldn't profess to be an "expert."
However, my immediate reaction was--dealing with the answers to those
questions is ordinary for military families. You see, until I retired
last year, we were a "military-married-to-military" family. Both earners
subject to separate assignment possibilities. While raising our children,
we had to and are still dealing with these questions. I would like to
offer "answers" as we experienced them.

>How healthy is it for kids developmentally to lose connections with home
>and family as they move around while growing up?

Our children, a boy 13 and girl 11, learned before they were aware that
"family" and "home" are something you take with you when you go. Somehow,
they get packed up with your "things," and are there at the next stop.
(Our children moved to England when they were 4 and 2; a new home there
when 6 and 4; returned to USA at 9 and 7; and to our present home at 11
and 9.)

>In the absence of long term relationships, what strategies do kids use to
>become quickly accepted in a new environment? Are these healthy

This one is tricky to reply to. Our son is more of a loner; our daughter
a social animal. They both were raised to celebrate their uniqueness--to
be "different" is good. And every "new kid on the block" is different.
The children have developed different strategies that compliment their
personalities. Daughter meets as many people as she can, gets phone
numbers and starts an elaborate process of finding people with common
interests. On the other hand, son "waits" for someone to find him. If no
relationship is imminent, he starts to act up/out--telling jokes, smart
remarks, looking to gain attention. Eventually, he has found a good
friend everywhere we've been. Drugs, et al, are not even options. We've
tried to reinforce that our children decide what's "cool," not their

>What are the implications regarding family stress for two-earner
>households when one earner has to move?

Fortunately, we avoided being split up, but always planned for a temporary
separation. Part of my decision to retire early was to avoid an almost
inevitable 12 month vacation in Korea. A few years ago, employing TQM
tools, my husband and I determined what our ultimate goal was--to stay
together as a family. That made all subsequent decisions easier. But
family separations are unfortunately common place in the military.
Therefore, a special support network is called for. An available relative
to live in as surrogate. Monthly weekend visits. Trusted friends on-call
for emergencies. The list goes on. (Actually, if you're facing this
situation, maybe Bill Hobler can get ahold of a wonderful handbook I
understand the Navy has for young couples facing their first extended sea
duty. I've only read excerpts in magazines.)

>How much investment do "nomadic" people make in a community they know they
>will not stay in for long?

I have never been in a "military town," defined as any town/village/city
that sponsor's a military installation, where the military members were
not significantly involved in community activities--volunteer
organizations, religious activities, spouses into business endeavors,
school boards, etc. Given the average assignment length was three years,
people seemed to learn better how to make a difference in their community
faster. This goea for many children in schools as well. They learn how
to make friends faster and the relationships seem to be stronger.

>Does having nomadic kids help or hurt already over-challenged school

I can only speak for the children's current school where I serve as a
parent member of the Site-Based Leadership Team. The school doesn't bat an
eye when enrollment lists differ dramatically year to year. Teachers
assess the individual students in the subject area, not presuming or
assuming what they learned "last year." Now, my "nomadic" kids have been
challenged somewhat by drastically different educational
philosophies--between Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS)
(overseas), Virginia, and now Arizona. But I can't say it's hurt them,
it's just different.

Hope some of this helps.
Ginger Shafer
The Leadership Dimension
"Bringing Leadership to Life"
-Info: learning-org-approval@world.std.com or <http://world.std.com/~lo/>