Financial Stress and Your Children
The kids in your life are stressed out, and financial stress is a big part of this. In fact, the topic of financial stress and your children is growing year by year.
I know what you’re thinking. “But my kids (or grandkids) don’t even have jobs yet, or bills and expenses. So how can they have stress around money?”
When you have stress around money and finances, the children in your life pick up on it. Whether they are three years old or seventeen, they know when money is an issue at home. There are many reasons why you might be feeling financial stress. You may have suffered a job layoff in the past year, had to take a cut in salary or benefits just to keep your job, or you may just be having a hard time finding a new job that compensates you enough to keep up with inflation. In fact, it’s not unusual for people to have worked at the same job without a raise for years. And while income isn’t increasing, the cost of living is. If you’re an entrepreneur, it may seem even more daunting to try to get back on track after a downturn in your business. Money stress can also happen when you have a large amount of debt. As the bills stack up and your paycheck doesn’t seem to cover all of them, you may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.
Your kids will react in a variety of ways when they pick up on their parents’ financial problems, and here are some ways to handle these situations when it hits home.
- Children will sometimes withdraw, avoiding friends and social situations. Encourage them to spend time with the people and activities they enjoy.
- Young people are more attuned to situations than you might believe. Schedule a time with your spouse to sit down with your children for an open and honest discussion. Assure them that they are your first priority and that you are doing what is necessary to get back on track financially.
- Many kids will react to financial stress by acting out and engaging in risky behavior. Make it clear that this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated and that you are there for them now and always.
- Feelings of helplessness may occur in older children. They feel like they would like to help with the family’s financial problems but are unsure how to do this. Discuss some age appropriate options for them to be included in what is going on at home right now. This article on Financial Stress and Your Children gives some additional insight as to what is important to share with your children at various ages.
And those feelings of helplessness can also cause havoc with your child’s and your own health. Stress you carry for a long period of time can be detrimental to your health, causing problems with the immune system, energy levels, and can even cause an increased risk for cancer and heart disease. It’s critical that you handle stress in an appropriate way so that your money stress won’t turn into a life changing illness for you or another family member. Financial stress and your children is now a topic among pediatricians, psychiatrists, and other health care professionals.
Plan weekly outings with your children to fight off physical fatigue and keep everyone’s immune system healthy. You may live where you are close by parks and trails that can be accessed all year long, or at least not too far away from where you are. These times together could be the catalyst for change within your family as you work through issues together. Remember that your financial problems don’t have to be permanent. You can learn to manage your money and time will help you to improve your situation.
Finally, you need to learn money management skills so that you can eventually relieve the stress you feel from money. When you finally address the problem, you’re bound to feel better quickly. Just getting the problem out in the open and determining what it will take to solve the problem is sometimes enough to improve your mindset and physical health. If you don’t know where to turn, try reading some financial improvement books, talking to a friend, or attending a community workshop. Your community may have opportunities for you to learn more about money and finances, and including your children as much as possible will be a positive step.
Stress is a natural part of life. Help your child to understand how to work through it during times of financial struggle and they will carry this knowledge with them forever and be able to pass it on to generations to come.
I’m author and online marketing strategist Connie Ragen Green. I work with entrepreneurs to create multiple streams of online income and would love to connect with you. Download my Online Entrepreneur’s Blueprint and get started right away.