Support and Advice from TNPC's Parenting Experts

Children are like emotional sponges. They will pick up on your tension and anxiety, even if you say nothing. In many cases this can cause more stress than would the truth, because they may imagine far bigger problems than you have, or may think they are the cause of the tension.
Many parents feel uncomfortable talking with their children about money problems. They think there is no point in it because the children won’t understand, cannot help, or that the kids will tell the neighbors. But your neighbors are probably in the same straits as you are, children can help in some ways, and they can understand more than you may think. So, talk about it.
You don’t need to get out a balance sheet or bank statement to say that you don’t have as much money as you used to have. You can show the children the ways you are coping by buying groceries differently, buying good used clothes instead of brand new ones, eating more fish and pasta instead of meat, driving less, etc. Let them learn about ways to save money in hard times. Teach them to help cook nutritious and inexpensive soups and stews. Teach recycling. They need these skills.
Be sure they feel free to ask questions so that you can relieve some fears that they may have. For example, they may say, “Will we have to sell our house and move away? Does this mean we will not have Christmas?” Involve them in brainstorming ways to save money. They may come up with many creative ideas that will surprise you.
Sharing these problems openly and working on them together as a family will help your children learn that the things that make us happiest are our relationships, not our money.

Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.


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