Talking with Your Children about an Economic Rough Patch

January 29, 2009

Need some advice on how to talk to your children about a difficult economic situation?  Here are some tips from our Savvy Source parent community...

Know your children: "Many times children will follow the actions and reactions of their parents in a situation. For instance, let's say money is the issue. If the parent tells the 4 or 5 year old child in a worried voice, 'We don't have enough money for that; we can't afford that,' then the child will be worried also. What if the parent says, 'This year we are going to be creative and do things different. Let's make some gifts for grandma!'  The child will feel joyful and be happy to do something different. What you focus on, your kids will focus on. "

Stay focused: "We talk about the importance of being thankful for what we have.  We count the things we are thankful for -- our house, our family, our friends, our Golden Retriever, our toys, our school -- to put the emphasis on what's important."

Be age-appropriately honest: "I think parents should be honest with their children.  Kids are very attuned to changes and will hear more than parents think.  So I think the parents should be honest about the loss of a job or difficult financial situation, but be reassuring and speak in terms the kids can understand.  For example, "Daddy (or Mommy) doesn't have a job right now, but he (or she) may be home more often and can spend a little more time with you."

Make holidays special: "Every person has been affected in some way [by the economic downturn], and special occasions don't need to be about splurging but rather thoughtful, special gifts."

Cook together:  "There may not be a better and more fun way to save some dough than to make dinner with your kids. They will love the mixing and pouring and you will cherish the memories."

From the Parents

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