In response to a family crisis, Harvey and Janice are struggling to keep their family from changing, Harvey by trying to convince Janice that she should be home more and Janice by enlisting Rita to "fill in" for her. They react to one another with Harvce defending herself and Rita, attempting to defuse her parents' conflict, intervening on her mother's side.
Janice and Harvey are experiencing a wide range of conflicting feelings, among them, sadness, anger, dependence, worry, doubts and vulnerability. Like many people, the feeling that is easiest for them to express is anger. It would be helpful if Harvey and Janice could sit down when things are as calm as possible and express the multitude of feelings each is experiencing without blaming the other. The initial goal is for each to feel heard and understood, not to problem solve (not to give or receive advice). The second goal is to address the changes needed in the family.
This discussion could include the children and could begin with each family member expressing his and her feelings without blaming anyone. Secondly, each person could talk about what he or she could do differently to enable the family to weather the crisis. It is useful for a family in crisis to consider new patterns of functioning. For example, instead of household tasks being managed by Janice and Rita, would it make sense for the tasks to be divided among all family members?
Once the children experience the parents working together, each may feel supported rather than neglected and/or overburdened. In fact, it could be useful for Jason and Benny to take part in the household responsibilities. Benny's school problems might be related to parental conflict, rather than his mother's absence from home.