Almost everyone goes through financial struggles at some point in their life. As a parent, it may be hard to tell your child about money problems.
This is a guest post by Angie Picardo, a staff writer with NerdWallet.
Lay-off, loans, and foreclosures are, for the most part, inevitable. After all, parents want their children to have a stress-free life, not one where money, or lack thereof, plays the biggest role. I shared 8 Really Unique Ways Of Teaching Kids About Money.
To Share or Not To Share?
Chances are that your child has already realized that there is a problem of some sort. A more tensed energy in the house or hearing more “no’s” to desired items at the store can all indicate a problem to your child. Children realizing the presence of a problem without a proper explanation or assurance from a parent can cause them insecurity, stress, and potentially even more serious psychological issues. Your kids generally view you as someone who has all the answers, perhaps even their role model. Seeing you experiencing problems without the assurance from you that “everything will be alright” can confuse and disturb them. So, the answer is: share.
How Much to Share
Use your judgment to decide how much to tell your children about what you are undergoing. However, keep in mind to not use your child to unload yourself. Over-sharing can cause them unnecessary stress; it can be worse than not having told them anything in the first place. Remember to act according to their best interest. Keep them informed, but not over-informed. Overburdening them can make them feel like they should be responsible for solving the problems when in reality they neither have answers nor should they be even taking responsibility of any sort in the first place. Be sure that all the adults in the family are in agreement of what and how much to say to the children. Hearing different things from different people can confuse them and cause them to lose trust in their family.
How to Inform Them
Make sure the children realize that the family will always be together and that the hard times will pass. Keep them optimistic; their optimism can help encourage you in your low moments as well. But do not lie to your child. Phrasing things and limiting information given to them is fine, but lying can impact your child negatively, especially when they find out. They might consider themselves as not worthy of being told the truth or unreliable, lowering their self-esteem. Remember that keeping them optimistic is key. Attempt to maintain a positive ambience in the house. Try not to express pessimism openly or argue in front of your children.
Use the Opportunity
Hard times should be used to teach your children important life lessons. If you judge that your child is mature and old enough, you can use the opportunity to educate him or her about money, saving, and distinguishing between wants and needs. If your financial situation is a result of an error of some sort on your part, tell your child about it and what you learnt from it. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes before your children—they need to know that no one is infallible, not even their parents who they might see as perfect. Instead of teaching them to always be right, teach them to be strong in every situation.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save some money with a free checking account.
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