With so much that can go on with a separation or divorce, life continues and other issues may enter. Especially with children involved. Unemployment is one of those significant issues.
It’s not uncommon for parents to tell kids that money doesn’t grow on trees. Likewise, that toys and electronics are expensive so to take care of them. At an early age, kids become aware of the concept of money.
Is Your Child Ready?
To the very young though, the preschooler, they may simply understand a parent goes to work. In their mind it may remain a mythical place as their limited knowledge of the world typically doesn’t include the array or workplaces or jobs. These children just know their needs are met.
A young school aged child may have a better appreciation of the need and use of money and while perhaps missing the full meaning of work, they do have a sense of its relative importance in sustaining their lives. They typically get that money equates to survival yet may not fully appreciate the connection to housing, transportation or food.
The older child, pre-teen and teen has a good grasp of the meaning and value of money and employment. They can fully appreciate the necessity of income to survival. They may have various ideas about the ease or challenge associated with gaining employment.
So, whether or not to tell the kids of your unemployment depends upon their age and their appreciation of the issues. Then if telling the kids, the challenge is to not overwhelm them with worry. As they worry, they may be less effective in their own responsibilities. However, to know may also encourage them to better manage costs and teach valuable life lessons.
What truly tends to be most helpful is for the parent to manage any fears they may have with regard to loss of employment and if telling the kids, to do so along with a plan to manage. You can help the kids to be part of the solution as reasonable to their age and ability.
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Given separation, divorce, child support and shared costs, consider informing the other parent as a part of reasonable planning too. Unemployment, however, remains an issue for parents to address and hopefully doesn’t become a point of tension to which the kids are drawn.
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 350 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.