Who would have Thought? The dramatic downturn in real estate! 10/09 --35% of LA homes up-side down! The most severe recession since the Great Depression! Jobless rates of 10% (17% estimates)! Government jobs no-longer secure!
During Family Crisis Keep Your Conversations Private! Kids understand more than you think! But not as much as you’d think!
Manage Your Stress Levels Crisis is an accumulation of smaller stresses over time. Even strong parents & families go into Crisis! Just “toughing it out” is not managing. Get support – Use Resources EAP / Church / Doctor / Mental Health Counselor Relaxation techniques / Exercise / Yoga
Talking to Your Kids Be honest but skip the drama. (We’re trying to cut back. That’s why we aren’t renting as many movies or ordering pizza.) Be honest, but don’t tell them everything is OK when you are going to get laid off. ( They need to trust what you tell them.) Don’t tell them more than they need to know. ( Don’t share every detail.) During your talk, don’t convey fear or anxiety, even if you feel it. (Parent’s distress upsets kids more than the loss of material things.) Make sure you and your spouse agree on what you are going to say. ( Don’t send mixed messages.)
Talking to Younger Kids 5 to 9 Younger kids are most concerned about themselves and need assurance in simple and concrete terms that they will be cared for. Many can understand the concept of saving to buy more expensive things later. They can make wish lists of what they want for birthdays & Christmas. It’s OK to reject pleas. You’re not depriving your Child. (Your teaching them important lessons about delaying gratification, earning rewards, and family finances.)
Talking to Preteens 10 to 12 Kids these ages are very concerned how they look to their peers. However, they can put things together in more complex ways and understand the financial pressures on the family. Preteens are old enough to save and plan ahead for purchases. Let then know they are not alone. You can’t always buy something you want right away. Let them know everyone has to cut back, even you. (If they are really motivated, remind them they can earn money towards what they really want.)
Talking to Teenagers Teens may feel the most pressure to keep up with fashions and what their friends have. Teens are capable of understanding the effects of economic crisis and can discuss issues in more detail. They can get upset about things that may feel directed at you, but they usually come around to understand it’s not your fault. Through part-time jobs, teens can earn money outside of the home to cover many of their own expenses.
Some Final Thoughts We are the YES generation of parents to our kids because we love them and always want the best for them. But sometimes we need to learn to say NO. Both to inappropriate behavior and to things they want, but not need. Explore fun, low-cost activities. Most of the best memories of childhood were spent being connected to family. Get your children involved in the solution. It gives them a sense of control. Lastly, kids are resilient. They have an incredible ability to overcome adversity and become stronger people for it.
A crisis is also an opportunity to get stronger as a family.
Gary A. Malone, MFT, CFLE 125 E. Barstow, Ste 109 Fresno, CA 93710 447-9468
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