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The Domino Effect: Inez Knows

Inez Lanns

Inez Lanns

By Inez Lanns

A man is dealing with the stresses of life – he has a wife and children to take care of, a very intense job that barely makes ends meet, responsibilities outside of family & work (maybe volunteering in community or fraternity commitments, etc.) – and he is not exactly sure of how to deal with the stressors.  Because he doesn’t want to worry his wife or maybe he feels like she won’t receive his feelings in a helpful or positive manner, he decides not to communicate what is going on to his wife.  Since he has such a busy schedule with his family, work and outside commitments, he doesn’t really have a good male support system.   So he’s feeling overwhelmed, and it is silently taking a toll on him.  He feels that he cannot cope with what he is responsible for and decides that it is too much; he decides to walk away from his family.

He continues to live his life, working and has minimal involvement with his children.  It eats him up inside because he feels constant guilt and sorrow for what he has done, but he continues (to walk broken) along the path that he has chosen.  His wife does not understand what has happened and how he could walk out on her and the children.   She is now damaged and hurt, but she tries her best to stay focused on taking care of the family.  Without his income, she carries a bigger financial burden and must find another job to supplement the household income.

The children are devastated and cannot understand how the life they have always known has been torn to pieces based on one simple decision.  The children are no longer able to continue with the lifestyle they once knew, and because their mother is working a second job, they spend more time alone (or with an extended family member if one is available) and without both parents.   They now have more time to get into trouble, and they are also left vulnerable to look for love and acceptance in the wrong places.

The trust that has been lost causes the woman to not trust any men, and it causes the children to not trust many things.  It affects their outlook on life – on the role of a man, a parent, on how things are supposed to be in life.  The decision of one man, who was hurting and stressed, had affected the lives of not only him, but also those around him.  A domino effect.

The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes.  It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally (an observed series of actual collisions) or metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global finance or politics). (Wikipedia)

Let’s look at another example of domino effect situation.  Let’s take one of the children from the previous example.  The oldest son was in high school when his dad walked out on their family.  He was very hurt and angry because his father left his family, and this caused him to put up a very big wall.  He became responsible for more – caring for his siblings and prematurely becoming the “man of their home” – and had to quickly step into a role that he was not prepared for.   Because his mother wasn’t around a lot, and he saw her financial struggle, he decided to start selling drugs to help bring income into their home.  He also becomes very close friends with a group of people who are no good, but he finds acceptance there.  He fills the void of his family with the group of trouble-making friends, and he resolves their family’s financial problem by selling drugs.  His new lifestyle leads to him ending up in prison.  Now he cannot do anything locked up, must really put up the walls to survive in prison, his mother is emotionally devastated and his younger siblings are really left vulnerable.

These were both common examples of domino effect having a negative effect on a family, which eventually effects community and society.  Now,  let’s take a look at the same family with some different decisions made.

The man who was dealing with many stressors in life decides he wants to find some positive outlets for his stress.  He decides to make some changes and organize his time to make sure he does some things, like exercise and maybe drop some unnecessary volunteer activities.  He also decides to communicate with his wife about what is going on and how he is feeling, and with counseling if necessary.  He makes an effort to connect with a couple of other men (positive and probably older men who have successfully made it through raising a family, etc.).  He also starts looking for another job.  He is determined to hang in there and to get through the tough season.  The exercise helps relieve some stress.  The communication with his wife lets him know he is not alone, allows her to help and also build their friendship and marriage; after they get through the trial, they end up closer than ever.  Having some male friends or mentors opens his eyes to see he is not the only one going through the situation and that he can make it.  He also learns from these men some tips and advice that are beneficial.  The family stays intact.

The children have their father and their mother through their lives which builds a foundation of love, a sense of trust and stability.  The man makes it through which gives him a sense of gratitude.  He is able to be a consistent part of his children’s lives and points them in the right direction.   The children grow up  knowing what a healthy family looks like, and because of that they know how to function in healthy relationships and build healthy families of their own.  They produce healthy families which also later produce more healthy families and so forth.

A good decision can go a very long way.  It can affect your life, the lives of those around you and also your community and society, as a whole, for many generations afterward.   The good and right decision may not be the easiest decision, but the affect of our decisions have a domino effect – whether it is in a positive way or in a negative way.

Inez Lanns was born and raised in Ventura County.  She currently writes a blog on her web site:

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