Thursday, August 25, 2011

When the Financial Crisis Affects Your Family

Financial woes have stretched to affect and impact everyone, including your kids. Whether you’re telling your 7 year old that he can’t have a new PlayStation, your pre-teen that a Smart-Phone isn’t an option, or your 17 year old that her favorite college is financially out of reach, the message is the same, we can’t afford it. Helping your kids to adjust to financial challenges isn’t easy – here are a few guidelines to help you through it:

1. It’s going to be OK. It’s important to start any conversation about change by providing a sense of safety, especially when children are involved. You may want to start your conversation with a simple sentence that covers it all, such as: “Jamie, I need to have an important talk with you about some changes we need to make as a family, everything is OK, but I’m going to need you to help out too”.

2. Get them involved. Just as the ending of the sample sentence above said, giving kids a role in the change allows them to feel some control and to take some personal responsibility. Whenever possible, tell your kids the changes YOU will be making, and then ask them to think of some changes THEY can make. Guide their decision making so that their contributions or sacrifices are genuinely helpful.

3. Recognize their efforts. Let them know how much the reduced allowance or the decreased spending on activities is helping the family. When they can’t participate in a favorite activity due to funds, let them know how much you appreciate it, and try to find ways to reward them.

4. Keep them informed. You began the conversation by saying things will be OK. Now keep them posted. It’s been a few months…are things getting better or worse? Is this change permanent or is it still temporary? By keeping them informed you make them feel safe, and part of the team which is your family.

5. Find the bright side. Instead of going out to the movies, make it a movie rental and with a big batch of popcorn, and maybe invite over a friend (or the dog!) to join you. Instead of going out to dinner, have a “make our own pizza”, or “decorate your own cupcake night”. And lastly,

6. Give yourself a break. These and other family activities may well become favorite activities and cherished memories you and your children will share for years to come. Rather than worry about what they can’t have, remind yourself of the values you are showing them, the love you are giving them, and the lessons you are teaching them.