Talking cents with your family

Talking cents with your family

(NewsUSA) - As the dismal economy shrinks the job force, parents across the country are faced with the intimidating task of explaining financial troubles to their children.
The economic meltdown has raised the unemployment pool in the United States to more than 7.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As these numbers continue to increase, more parents will have to explain fewer nights out, smaller allowances and other cuts to the family budget to their children. While the initial discussion can be frightening, experts say that avoiding these conversations with your children is a mistake.
"Keeping kids in the dark about something so serious as a job layoff is a huge mistake. Hearing such an immensely personal family problem from anyone other than you could well break down the trust between you and your child," says Dr. Michele Borba, child expert and member of Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Family PLUS Advisory Committee, a comprehensive family support strategy sponsored by Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
So, how can parents start a conversation about a recent layoff?
Borba, who also authored "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions," offers a few tips to help parents and kids discuss financial problems:
* Prepare what you want to say. Doing so will help you feel more comfortable and less tense, which will make your news sound less scary to your kids.
* Describe the potential impact on your family. Most kids' prime concern is how this personally affects them. So, be honest and clear about any foreseeable changes. For instance: Dining out less. Not going to movies. More bag lunches. Less allowance.
* Explain your plan for new employment. Kids don't need a lengthy discussion, so just briefly explain that you're seeking a new job and that it may take awhile. Knowing that you have a "plan" (even if you have no idea what to do) helps kids feel secure.
* Involve your kids so they feel they are part of the solution. Ask them for ideas to help your family reduce costs. For instance, mention that turning off the lights will conserve energy. Then ask them for other suggestions.
* Keep the discussion going. A one-time talk won't be enough for your children to absorb what is happening, so let them know that they can ask questions at anytime.
Find more tips for parents on a variety of topics on the Family PLUS Web site at http://familyplus.bgca.org.