I was once teaching a class of 8-year-olds, in which there were identical twin sisters.

They came into class late one day. I asked one of them, "Why are you late today?" She looked at her sister, her sister looked at her, and then she said: "We had a headache this morning."

This empowering answer has helped me to assist families in crisis over many years.

What the little girl was really saying was that if one sister has a headache it was both of theirs and they both carried the burden together.

I spent some time with a family whose children were complaining bitterly about their father. "He is very nervous and very uptight lately. He is going through a very stressful time in his business, he works longer hours and when he comes home he is a nervous wreck and lets out his stress on the family. We act like normal children who make noise and invite friends over, but he cannot cope with it. What should we do?," they asked.

The father's response was: "I am currently experiencing the most difficult times in my business career and I can't sleep at nights due to the worry and uncertainty about my future. It is consuming my entire being! They make my life more difficult by complaining about me instead of supporting me."

I suggested that perhaps he needs to sit down with his family and share with them the challenges (not problems) he is currently facing and the effect it has on him. Some men find it difficult to switch roles this way, from being the provider and the giver to suddenly being the vulnerable party and asking their wife and children for emotional support. It is wise to show that you, too, are a human being with feelings and emotions and at times like these you are asking them for their support.

You can only ask people to help you — I said to this husband and father — if you are prepared to open up and put your ego aside. Ask your wife and children if they have any suggestions how to bring some calmness, peace and tranquility into your home. Explore a variety of possible ways to manage your stress as the rest of the family shows more support and understanding. Everybody will be willing to move towards accommodating the other person if they understand what it is that they are being asked to do. Instead of making them part of the problem, invite them to become part of the solution.

This exercise will also teach the children (especially the boys) how to become comfortable and articulate with presenting and sharing their feelings. Sharing this difficult experience will strengthen the family unit instead of destroying it.

Some parents may find it difficult to share their challenges with their children, because they want their children to maintain the sense of security. They want to portray the image, "I can deal with anything and nothing is too hard for me."

On the other extreme, there are parents who share all their difficulties, vulnerabilities and relationship problems with their children.

Like everything in life, the middle way may be the best one.

It's important to let children know that in the journey of life we are all presented with a variety of challenges. We need to be wise about what is appropriate to share with them and what is not. We have to explain to them that in times like these the family has to stick together as a unit and everybody has to offer their support and help to the person facing the challenge. Just like in the human body, when one organ gets hurt the brain will supply extra blood to help the healing process.

Try it — it works!