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Helping Kids Deal with Parents’ Unemployment

Unemployment can be scary for adults who are going through it. What about your children? They may not know the particulars but they know that something is not right anymore. Here are constructive ways to help your kids deal with the situation.

Losing a job can be hard on your entire family. Trying to keep the fact of the loss from your kids can lead to a lot of speculation on their part and hurt feelings. What your kids might imagine is going on will likely be far worse than what you are dealing with.

Here are some ways to help them understand how their family financial situation has changed.

Be honest with them – Sit them down and tell them that you have lost your job. They will have questions for you. Answer them as best you can and in language that they can understand. Have this talk as a family so that everyone is on the same page.

Reassure them – Even though you are hurting, don’t show that in front of your children. They see you as the leader of the family and will rely on you to help them deal with this situation. Tell them that you will come together as a family and deal with the loss but that you will always be there for them. Furthermore, children may fear that your loss is their fault, especially if they have recently asked for a new toy or something. Let them know that it is not their fault.

Involve the family in new ways to cut costs – Reveal to the family that you will be cutting down on expenses with the limited amount of income. Ask for suggestions. Older kids and teens may look for part-time jobs to help the family out. Younger children can help out with chores to ease the burden on parents who are looking for new jobs and trying to find financial solutions.

Keep to a routine of normalcy – If you eat dinner as a family, keep to this schedule. For younger children especially, keeping the routine lets them know that things will all work out. They need that comfort to get through the changes they will soon face.

Get help from a support group or your place of worship – When you need to talk, go to another adult. Venting to your children is too much for them to handle. Besides, any uncertainty on your part will make them feel uncomfortable and worry about their family. Talking to others that have been in that situation is good for you to know that you are not alone. It will also fill you with hope for tomorrow.

Children can pick up on a change in the atmosphere of their home when a parent loses a job. Go to them and speak plainly about your job loss. Use the suggestions above to keep the family emotionally together while you try to bring the financial picture back into focus.  For additional help we recommend this series of articles on Resilience from the American Psychological Association.