Talking to Your Kids During Tough Financial Times

When I hold my baby boy to my chest, I sense that he is keenly aware of how I am feeling. Just these past few weeks as I was completely stressed out because my entire house was sick and exhausted, I was just hoping that each time I set him down, he would sleep without interruption. When I am stressed, in a hurry, or in a playful mood, it's as though he senses what I am feeling.

I've been reading lately about the financial "crisis" ( I hate to call it that). One of the most intriguing parts of this time in our history is what impact this will have on our children. Only time will tell the real effects. I am no child psychology expert. I do not profess to know all of the best strategies for kids. One thing I do know is that tough financial times do warrant consideration on how we should communicate with our kids about money. Here are a few noteworthy things I read in the December issue of Parents magazine:
  • DO stay positive and optimistic. It's okay to share with your kids that you are experiencing tough times, just not okay to freak out. In the article, Dr. Kirkland offers this line, "We're having some money problems, but we're going to get through this as a family."

  • DON'T transfer pressure to your kids. I can remember going through financial challenges as a kid. Even as a teenager, I certainly felt the burden of not being expensive. Kids should not be responsible for grown up feelings.

  • DON'T be secretive. This is a hard one. Nearly everyone I speak with has trouble divulging money issues to a close friend or family member let alone their kids. I agree with the doctor here. Kids deserve a realistic picture of what's going on and a positive outlook on the future. Shielding money problems only perpetuates a cycle that problems need to be hidden.

  • DO find free ways to connect with your kids. I can't wait until my son is old enough to understand what I do & what we talk about here. I simply can't wait until he becomes a savvy shopper in his youth. Beyond shopping, there are lots of free things to do in the community. Schools, parks, and places of worship host lots of events open to the general public at no charge. It's really time to dig in and get creative with all of the available options. Let's not leave our children out this challenging financial time. What do you say?