By Morrisa Drobnick, LCSW
Q – We had such difficulty telling our kids about my husband losing his job. Seeing us depressed around the house wasn’t good. We didn’t want to scare them or have them ashamed of their father. – M.G. Maywood.
A – The fantasies of kids (and adults) can actually be far more troubling than the reality which they will eventually learn anyway. Be honest and on the level with the kids. It is important for them to learn that life is full of changes. Give specific examples of what will change, as well as what will stay the same.
Q – We told our kids of my husband’s job loss but got very little reaction. Weeks later, all kinds of questions, misbehavior, and strange comments appeared. – S.D. Lodi
A – When kids are informed of any disturbing news they need time to process the information. Make yourself avialble after sharing bad news. Try to encourage conversation. Misbehavior is an expression of uncomfortable feelings that they’re experiencing.
Q – Money has been tight in our household for some time. We are saving for our first house. I’m honest with my kids. I tell them that things are not in our budget. I give them choices or options. Many times I say “no” because of the money. We’re teaching them early to live within certain limits. I’m sad and disappointed for them at times but also show them them that “fun” doesn’t have to cost money. – B.B. Park Ridge
A – What a great attitude. You are doing a wonderful service for your family. Being honest and reassuring at the same time. “I’m sorry that the movie isn’t in the budget now but we can still have fun” is a way of showing financial limits. Think of things that cost nothing but time together. Board games, reading time, baking cookies or pizza, art and craft projects, family outdoor sport, indoor exercising, family walks, getting together with other families are all no cost and fun.
Financial stress and family economics have always been a part of life. Introduce kids early to the importance of cooperation, viewing themselves as a family team member. Make a conscious effort to teach the value of money early, using simple examples. Confronting harsh family realities are never easy, but it is nice to hear that parents of the 90’s are helping their children adapt positively.