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Telling the kids when recession hits home


Not a pleasant thought but a very real one these days.

The truth is unemployment is soaring and the economy continues to sputter. Every job, including our own, is facing looming layoffs and perhaps salary cuts for those that remain.

How the hell to tell the kids?

I have a few friends in this position, and likely will have more soon. One is taking the tact that it’s best not to tell his children until he has to. Another has kept his two kids abreast of developments.

It’s a personal choice, obviously. But I did come across an interesting piece from Business Week magazine that provided some tips on how to broach the subject with the family, and kids in particular.

I hope none of us ever end up in this situation. But life doesn bring twists and turns, and, as is the case with other difficult topics we bring to our children, it’s helpful to have a plan when you go in.

So, hats off to Business Week. Here’s their report:

You lost your job! Should you tell your kids?

Posted by: Mauro Vaisman on September 16

As I read the news today about the thousands of people that are coming to work so they can pack their personal belongings, several things cross my mind—but at the top of the list is: “What is the right way to tell your kids that you just lost your job?”

I did some web research and found an article from 2005 at CareerBuilder.com. Not sure who wrote it, since the byline says only “CareerBuilder blogger” but it has some good advice from Lorie Lewandowski, a counselor for the Mountain Lakes School District in NJ.

Here are some advice from the article:

-Be honest
-Gauge their reaction
-Choose an appropriate time
-Be positive
-Assure them they will be taken care of
-Give them hope
-Watch for behavioral changes
-Let them be a part of your search

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 1:16 pm by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Parenting

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5 Responses to “Telling the kids when recession hits home”

  1. Julie Moran Alterio

    Great post, Jorge. This is something all too many people are facing these days. Our colleague, Jerry Gleeson, just reported that the unemployment rate among residents of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties reached 7.3 percent in July, up from 5 percent a year earlier, citing data from the New York state Labor Department.

    I can only imagine that the approach will vary based on the age of the child, but a parent’s own attitude will play a big role in their kids’ reaction.

    I hope I won’t have to tell my daughter I am out of work, but if I do: I hope I do it right. This post helps us keep in mind that our children will take their cues from us.

  2. momanon

    I lost my job last week – luckily I’m in a pretty good situation – I have a husband with a good job, no mortgage and a decent severance package. BUT – that doesn’t mean I don’t have to get another job, because I have two kids to send to college in the not-too-distant future.

    I told the kids as soon as I got home – it was hard to hide the fact that I was so upset – and they were GREAT. My older one, who had only been half-heartedly looking for a job of his own, went out immediately and got one so that he didn’t have to keep asking me for spending money. My little one made me tea (such a sweetheart – he didn’t know what else to do). But I tried not to show fear in front of them – I didn’t want them to think we were destitute or anything. I used the opportunity to reinforce the importance of good money management. The fact that we don’t hold over any credit card debt from month to month, that we paid off our mortgage early, all of these things make the situation more manageable. If we had a huge mortgage or high credit card balances, I’d be in a much different place. Nobody ever thinks it’ll happen to them, but when it does, it’s much better if you’re prepared.

  3. David V.

    I think the way to handle the situation properly depends a lot upon the age of the kids. I think older kids should be told as much as possible, because they can get a good life lesson from it. Some parents make the mistake of shielding their kids too much, and in doing so increase their own stress and just as important, dig themselves into a deeper financial hole because they don’t want to scare their kids by cutting back on expenses.

    I’d also say that it’s not necessary to wait until job loss occurs to talk to kids about the realities of the bad economy. We’ve gotten away in recent years from many of the economic lessons our parents and grandparents learned from past experiences, and many people took on way too much debt in the pursuit of lifestyles they couldn’t really afford. Just about everybody was guilty of this to one extent or another. I think that all this should be shared with kids in an age-appropriate manner, even in the absence of a job loss.

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  5. Single Dad

    Nice post, Jorge. This is something all too many people are read this article….Thanks!


About this blog
Parents’ Place is a hangout for openly discussing the A’s to Z’s of raising a child in the Lower Hudson Valley. From deciding when to stop using a binky to when to let your teenager take driving lessons, Parents’ Place is here to let us all vent, share, and most of all, learn from each other.
Leading the conversation are Julie Moran Alterio, a business reporter and mom of a toddler, Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, a reporter and single father with joint custody of a 9-year-old son, and Len Maniace, a reporter and father of two sons.


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About the authors
Julie Moran AlterioJulie Moran AlterioJulie Moran Alterio, her husband and baby girl — “Pumpkin” — share their Northern Westchester home with three iPods and more colorful plastic toys than seems necessary to entertain one tiny human. READ MORE
Jorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-GibbonJorge Fitz-Gibbon has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a father for nine. READ MORE
Jane LernerJane LernerJane Lerner covers health and hospitals for The Journal News in Rockland, where she lives with her husband and two children. READ MORE
Len Maniace.jpgLen ManiaceLen Maniace is a reporter and father of two sons. READ MORE


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