Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The kids and unemployment

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I honestly don't know where yesterday went. This week already goes by way too fast... I've been working really hard lately and I'm well on the way to reaching my goal this month...

Today marks a not very pleasant Anniversary for us - 3 months of unemployment... It's been a long and hard road so far. A lot longer than we thought it would be, with no end in the visible future, unfortunately... We had ups and downs, times when Hubby wouldn't even get a chance and other moments when he would go almost all the way to the top (and even got an offer... but I'm still glad he rejected it because the more we learn about certain people in charge of that company, the more we are happy he will not be working under them...)

We are doing OK so far but it doesn't mean there weren't any changes because there were quite a few. You know, eating out, entertainment, gifts and some others that I have or haven't mentioned before.

Yesterday I had a conversation that made me ponder about it. I was picking up my 1-st grader from school and had a little chit-chat about our situation with one of the moms who is also my good friend. She told me that when she was younger, there were a few times when her Dad had lost a job. During those times her Mom would do her best to hide from the kids their financial troubles...

It reminded me of the time when my own Dad lost his job. It only happened once while I was growing up. I was around 12 back then, and my sister was 5. My Grandpa passed away about 18 months before, so my parents decided to move about 8 hours away from their hometown to be closer to my Grandma.

Not for a second could we imagine that it would take my Dad 6 months to find a job. We didn't have much when we moved and it was getting less and less every day. On the week when my Dad finally received a "yes", we were down to one last pound of flour and a pint of black currant jam. We literally had nothing else. Our fridge and pantry were bare.

But you know what, I'm grateful that we went through this time. I know it might sound crazy but we were never as close. We spent a lot of time together doing all kinds of free activities, we laughed more and hugged more. To this day I cherish those memories of the very tough times for my family...

What works for some families doesn't work for others. What would you do if you faced unemployment? Would you tell your kids (and if you do how much would you tell) or would you think that it's too much of a burden for little ones? Have you ever had to face this dilemma before?


22 comments:

  1. Lena, The first 10 years of our marriage my husband was laid off 3 times.... we moved from Florida to Pennsylvania then to Virginia then to Texas and now to Iowa.... We have been in Iowa for 17 years now...Our kids were very young during this time.... They didn't understand money during that time.... We were very frugal and after moving to Iowa and money was flowing we still lived frugal.... The kids were starting to understand money.... When middle school came and high school came and all the trips they were going on and the cost of band stuff and show choirs we still sat down with the kids with our budgets.... We showed them what money came in and what flowed out... how much we could afford to pay for band stuff and school trips... They learned to budget and save for the things that were important to them... I had 3 all in high school together and then off to college... They tell me to this day that sharing our budget made things so much easier for them...they said they had friends who had no clue what a budget is or how to budget in college when they were on their own...They were given so much money and their parents said make it work without teaching them to budget... I think middle and high schools should teach budgeting as a requirement course....not an elective....... They had friends who didn't care how much things cost their parents... They felt owed to have things others had and my kids just shook their heads... My daughter is a hoarder with her money... My son Tim and his wife budget all the time because her parents are like us with teaching Jessica to budget... So both Tim and Jessica know what they have.... My other 2 sons money burns through their pockets.... but they live with in budget....If I were to do it all over I would do it the same way....Kids should know what is going on... When money is tight they should know because kids can be more frugal then their parents.... To this day even tho all 4 are adults my budgeting is out in the open with them...They will ask lets all go out for dinner and I will tell them it is not in the budget for this month depending on what is due or not.... And now with the whole health care stuff and having to pay 100% up front with all my kids and us and they have their own health insurance, instead of going out to eat we are going to have family barbecues.... everyone brings something...

    I can't believe it has been 3 months, time flies and I am praying...Praying all the time.... (((HUGS))) Lisa

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, Lisa! :) I appreciate it! And I absolutely agree with you about teaching kids how to budget (both in schools and at home). I see teenagers nowadays - including in our own family - who think that money grows on trees...

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  2. I think it is a good thing to let your children know your financial situation, but in an optimistic, hopeful way. They will feel empowered when they can help out with "frugal" things and it will teach them that life will have challenges, giving them a more realistic perspective on life than a feeling of shock when things go bad. Reality is that there will be times that we all must make sacrifices, which is quite contrary to the "entitlement" that so many feel these days.

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    1. I agree. We actually had this conversation with my kids (well, the older one, at least. The little guy is just way to young to understand... or care :) We try to do our best not to deprive them but some things are just not in a budget any more (like eating out). And I don't feel guilty telling them that!

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  3. I would certainly tell my kids every time. It's better for them to know what's going on and not wonder and worry as much. And kids can help a lot if they know what is going on, even if it's just having a better attitude and understanding why spending habits have changed.

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    1. I agree, Amy. Our kids know somewhat what's going on (not all of the details because they are just way too young for it). We even did a FHE on budgeting with them :)

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  4. I'll go with "it depends". Depends on the age of the children, the lifestyle previously held, etc. I don't think they need to be told that dad has lost his job at this age (for your kids), but it wouldn't hurt to let them know that dad is looking for a job (hence he's at home) and that expenses will have to be controlled even more so than before until he can find something. It's a tricky situation, but I am sure there are ways to expose them to the topic without a) lying, b) hiding it from them entirely.

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    1. We did tell them :) But they don't know every detail, and they surely enjoy having Dad at home more :)

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  5. Hi Lena. Our daughter is 14 so yes I would tell her so that she would be able to understand the situation and we discuss money factors of if we bought that then we will have to go without other. However if she was as young as yours then no I wouldn't I would do all the free stuff and make it fun because that is what they will remember. Hope hubby finds a job soon.
    Best wishes
    Carolx

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    1. We do all the free fun we can and try not to deprive them. But some of the things we did have to cut from our budget, and I'm glad I could explain it to my little guys without going into too much drama :) Thank you for your concern, Carol!

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  6. I would tell my little girl if one of us lost a job. Things were very tight for us growing up and we always knew it. We didn't ask for much because we felt bad. I hope your hubby is able to find a job that's a good fit for him soon.

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    1. I agree with you. We always knew too. Even when my parents were both employed, we were still pretty poor.

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  7. When I was young, my family had some very lean times, but my parents did not talk to us about money...but my brother and I knew something was "wrong" and felt even more apprehensive because we could not talk about it. But I also remember some of the happiest times of my childhood were when we had the least money, and we sat and sang songs on the front porch, for example, while my Dad played the harmonica....I think back now and realize those must have been some of the lean times. I guess it is also about attitude - I know you and your husband are keeping the family together with love...it would be different if you were hitting the bottle everyday and yelling and fighting..;) But the point is that kids understand more than you think, so it is good to have some conversation, which is actually reassuring.

    Now I am a parent, and I give my child limited information (he is 8 yrs old). No, we cannot buy a new toy today because it is not in our budget - would you rather have a toy or eat dinner tonight? No, we cannot go out to dinner tonight as our fun money for this month is allotted to fall break, etc.. Since I work as a contractor and have varying income, there are a lot of times when there is no money for 'extras' and then there are times we can afford a few splurges...when we do have extras, we involve our son in those decisions too.

    Sorry about going on and on...cannot believe it has been 3 months already.....but you know what, you are stronger because of it, and you have learned who your true friends are....what blessings! Sending positive thoughts,

    Nan

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    1. Oh, you don't need to apologize! I love hearing how others teach their kids about finances and budgeting. And I agree with you - kids understand a lot more than we might think.

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  8. I agree with the other comments. Children definitely need to be involved in the finances of the family, but age and maturity need to be taken into consideration. If there is a problem and you don't tell them anything, they will imagine something worse. I have confidence that things will work out soon on the job front.

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  9. My husband was out of work for 3 1/2 months ten years ago when my oldest was in 1st grade. We told our kids. It would've been weird if we hadn't because he was suddenly home all the time, applying for jobs. The only thing that was a problem was that my daughter told her teacher and some other people that my husband had been fired, which is very different from being laid off. She didn't know the difference, but it was embarrassing to my husband. Part of the reason I tell my kids these types of things is because my parents never told me about our money situation. I sometimes overheard things that made me worry, even though I shouldn't have.

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    1. I bet it was :) My husband was laid off but he's a bit embarrassed of the whole unemployment thing too. I don't think my kiddos even know the word "fired" :) They just know that Daddy doesn't have a job at the moment :)

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  10. I believe it's important for the children to understand the value of money, and this is an opportunity to talk about savings, being wise with the available money, not wasting food, and so on. I do pray that your husband finds employment soon

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    1. I agree with you! And thank you for your prayers!

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  11. Lena,

    I went through almost similar situation early this year. I am not the main breadwinner of the family but I contribute large portion of my pay to our family expenses and plus 1/2 of my pay gets deducted for loans! So when I was almost jobless, I went nuts!!! My hubby couldn't possible cover the expenses and my debts!
    Its the most scariest feeling ever! trust me....I was depressed all the time. I couldn't function like a normal human being as I was constantly worried. What if I loose my job? How would I pay my debts?...How would we survive?...I tried to stay positive but it was impossible. My hubby was a great support. He would spend hours talking to me and assuring me that he would take care of everything but in reality I know that was impossible. We need two people to work to sustain the family!
    I didn't spend any extra time with my son while I was on long leave, I was too depressed!.. I thought my aura itself gives my kid a bad vibration!!!...that's how crazy I was! Luckily my kid understood, he knew his mommy was going through some tough time.
    I didn't loose my job, yay . I learned few valuable lesson. You need positive energy around you- I got it from my hubby. He remained positive despite his own fears. Lena, your hubby must be having his own fears too. Man never show their emotion, women do,in many crazy ways! You just have to be supportive of your hubby, I know it wont be easy after 3 mth of unemployment . Trust me dear, he needs all the support.
    I learned to be frugal and I I budget my expenses. I don't waste anything from my pantry and fridge. I was amazed how much I could save simply being frugal.
    I didn't have any support from anyone other than my husband and son. no friends or family support. No one wants to be friends with a someone who's about loose their job, :(. I knew then who my true friends are!
    Lena, its how we deal with the situation that matters. You can tell your kids about what you're going through in a gentle way. Let them know that mommy and daddy need to be careful with money since daddy is not working.
    Lena, good days will eventually come. Stay positive. Take care dear and god bless your family.

    Deni

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    1. Oh Deni, I'm so sorry you had to go through all of this, and that your friends turned away from you in such hard times! We are lucky to have lots of support from family and friends. But I understand what you mean by going crazy. That's exactly what was happening to me when my sister lost a baby and my Mom got diagnosed with cancer. That week was an eye-opening for me! I realized that all my priorities were shifted towards money. Now I'm still concerned but not nearly as much as, for example, about my Mom's health.

      And I've always been frugal but unemployment definitely kicked it to another level :) Luckily, both hubby and I are thrifters, and we are usually on the same page with spending money (or not spending it at all :) I'm trying to support him all the time because I know how hard it is on him right now.

      Thank you for all your support and kindness. And I'm glad you didn't lose your job after all :)

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