Growing Strong Kids In a Weak Economy
Is the Economy Your Family’s Friend?
Times are tough. I went to the Dollar Store and I noticed they had added a Recovery Room!
I interviewed an old man who had gone through the Great Depression, “These times are nothin’ compared to what we went through! We were so poor, as a little boy, all I had to wear were hand-me-downs.”
“That’s not unusual,” I added.
“But all I had were older sisters!”
In a global recession, with growing unemployment, collapse of the markets, shrinking home equity and the loss of savings for college and retirement, how is a parent to cope with our children’s increasing needs and escalating expenses?
Economic hard times don’t have to be depressing; they can actually be asset, if we choose to leverage the lessons that can be learned from less.
According to a CBS News Poll, four in five parents say they and their families have been impacted. I’m not sure where the 20% are hiding out; but EVERYONE I meet has had to cut back something!
Some of my clients and parents I have met at my presentations have a solution to the tough times:
Pretend it doesn’t impact them.
They swim along with the usual routine, activities, purchases, enrichment, and maintain the image. Thinking, I don’t want to burden or stress my child by sharing with them economic realities.
But our kids know anyway. They read us like a book. So share age-appropriate information, adjustments to spending and explanations why you can’t go on a big vacation or trip. Don’t avoid the conversation. Most children and teens want to talk with their parents more about finances, saving and planning, but most parents don’t.
See the recession as your opportunity to talk to your kids about finances.
Sue Shellenbarger offers helpful tips in her column in the Wall Street Journal Here are some edited suggestions with my commentary:
* Changes in family patterns call for an explanation, even to very young children. As ‘magical thinkers’ they may worry that ‘If dad loses his job, then I may lose my daddy.’
* Present the facts briefly, honestly and in a matter of fact way. Kids take their cues about how to feel from their parents, so be careful to keep the drama in check.
* Normalize your family’s problems by putting them in a broader context. And make it fun, “Let’s see if we can each come up with ways to spend less money. Lot’s of people are doing this now.”
* Let your children’s questions quide how much information you provide. Watch out for TMI
* Involve your children in problem solving and helping others. Become involved is serving others in your community. Seeing that people care for each other is re-assuring to your children and teaches them to be other-centered
* Remind your children of what is not going to change. Reinforce the values you care about most. “We may not be able to go on a big vacation, but we are going to go to the beach, the park, the pool, and the mountains instead. As long as we are having fun and are together, that’s the most important thing.”
Sometimes, having less and doing less is actually doing MORE for our kids.
Entry filed under: Parenting. Tags: budget, children, compassion, contribution, crisis, discipline, economy, entitlement, family, income, Kids, lazy, opportunities, pain, patience, recession, restraint, self-control, strong, unemployment, waiting, weak, work.