Morrisa Drobnick, LCSW, staff writer and advice columnist of “KIDS Magazine” answers questions about children and finances.
Financial stress and family economics have always been a part of life. Introduce children early to financial cooperation and they will view themselves as important family team members. Make a conscious effort to teach the value of money early, using simple examples. Confronting harsh family realities is never easy, but it is nice to know that there are parents who are helping their children adapt positively.
Q – We had such difficulty telling our kids about my husband losing his job. Seeing us depressed is not helping. We don’t want to scare them or have them ashamed of their father. – M.G. in Maywood.
A – The fantasies of kids (and adults) can actually be far more troubling than the reality that 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. HELP! – S.D. from Lodi
A – When kids are informed of any disturbing news, they need time to process the information. Make yourself available 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 that fun doesn’t have to cost money. – B.B. of Park Ridge
A – What a great attitude! You are doing a wonderful service for your family. You’re 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 great way of showing financial limits. Think of things that cost nothing but still provide 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, activities sponsored by libraries or towns are all no cost and fun.
The Mars & Venus Counseling Center is here to help.