DADDY’S LOST HIS JOB
How in the world does a parent tell their children that life – as they know it – is about to change? So many of us have been fortunate to live “the dream;” make a down payment on a house, finance a car, have nice clothes, go on a vacation once a year. We gladly spoil our children with computers and ipods and the expected accoutrements of today’s teenage life. We eat well, live well, and expect to continue to build on our growing sense of comfort. And then one, and in many cases today, both parents lose their jobs or are caught in a downsize that greatly diminishes their income. What do you say to the kids?
We all want to be heroes to our children. We strive to give them something or someone to look up to. We believe that teaching by example is the answer and then the example dissolves. Besides the “birds and the bees”, losing a job ranks as one of the most difficult discussions to have with a child. But be sure that hiding family strife is not a good defense to the problem. Your kids know what’s going on whether or not you tell them. Best to hear it from you.
Any emotional issue needs to be approached in an age-appropriate manner. Would it make sense to tell your 3-year old that she has to cut back on ice cream cones? Not exactly. But does it make sense to sit down with pre-teens and teenagers, those growing little consumers, and explain to them the realities of the family finances? The answer is, yes. As a parent you need not share you excel sheet. What you do need to do is insure your children that they will be well taken care of but that there will be some cutbacks. Instead of a family Friday night of dinner and a movie – it might just be a movie. Better yet, that’s why they invented Netflix. Popcorn and a movie at home works just as well. A decrease in personal allowance and an increase in family chores is another healthy change from which most families could benefit.