Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Financial Distress? Focus on Family

"I don't want my kids to be stressed about our financial situation.  They're too young."  One mom said this to me at a recent event and because it has become such a common refrain, I felt that I needed to highlight a post I made about Sue Schellenbarger's WSJ article last September.  It's even more relevant today.  Many families are in serious financial distress and a common reaction to this is to shield the kids.  This is virtually impossible to do.  Your kids are going to feel your stress and if you don't explain to them what's going on, they'll make their own leaps.  

Talk to your kids about difficulties you might be having and assure them that you are working to make things alright.  Enlist them to help - they typically want to be involved.  Give them simple things to do (e.g. don't run the water while brushing teeth, turn lights off when you leave a room).  Use Ms. Schellenbarger's article as a guide for your conversations and, if you still don't believe that involving your kids is important, look at they study she cites about the importance of focusing on the family in times of distress.  Your problems are your family's problems.  Face them together as a family.

1 comment:

Kerrie L. Davis said...

I absolutely agree with John! As our credit union's Community and Education Outreach Coordinator, I am witnessing problems with the kids first hand. In March, our county had the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. In our schools, there are students dropping out to work more hours to help support their families, kids that are emotionally distraught bursting into tears, missing school, acting out and not sure if they are going to go home or live in a car. This financial crisis is hitting many families nationwide-It is not a parent issue it is a family issue.

It is critical that we involve our kids in the discussions about loss of income, possible loss of a home and other money matters. If you involve your kids with those discussions they become your staunchest supporters. You will find that they will help you with your budget concerns and help to reduce expenses because they know it is for the good of the family. If you talk behind closed doors they will hear eventually and they will be fearful.

It is equally important that families pull themselves away from having tunnel vision. Sometimes we can get so focused on the problem that we forget about that part of our lives that is the most important. Money can be re-earned, homes can be bought and sold, jobs can be offered, but our famlies can not be replaced. Keep your eyes focused on what is most important. This may be a test for mutli-tasking, but there are plenty of family activities to keep kids engaged. Take time out for your spouse, your kids and other family members. We have kids and grandkids moving back in with family members at an unprecedented rate. This is the time to focus on what is important, deal with the issues and keep communicating with your kids. Seek out emotional counseling for the entire family if things get out of control.

Remember that we have been through this before and we will get through this time as well. I believe we will see families enjoying more simple and uncomplicated activities. Now is the time to huddle, circle the wagons, give each other a hug (daily), persevere and get through this as a family. If you are not affected, this may be an opportune time to mentor a family who is. As a community we can make a difference. I challenge other financial institutions to be proactive in healing their community one family at a time.....

Kerrie Davis
Communtiy and Education Outreach Coordinator
Rogue Federal Credit Union