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Parenting and Unemployment

by Ronald A. Rowe | October 23rd, 2012 | Elementary

It is an unfortunate reality of modern life that a majority of us will go through a period of unemployment at one time or another. Many will go through that trying ordeal while raising children. How an we turn this negative in our professional lives into a positive teaching opportunity for our kids?

It isn’t easy. Small children may not understand the reality of unemployment well enough to be concerned, but as they reach 8, 9, 10 their ability to comprehend breeds a natural fear for the future. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of parenting while unemployed, there are a few helpful concepts that may serve to lessen the negative impacts on your family and boost the growth potential.

First, don’t try to ignore it. Your children can sense when things aren’t right. Plus there’s the whole “not going to work” thing that will be a dead giveaway. Talk to your children about the situation. You can even get them excited about the transition to a new job, maybe a new city or state. Life is an adventure. Even when a stage of the adventure isn’t a very pleasant one, it is still an adventure. If you can’t avoid it you might as well embrace it.

Put on a brave face. No matter how scared or worried you might be, you’ve got to keep it light around the kids. Focus on the positive steps you made that day not the failures or frustrations. There will be plenty of time for ruminating on the tough parts while the kids are at school or after they’ve gone off to bed.

Include them in the scaling back. Casual stops for lunch after the football game or going out to dinner to celebrate an “A” might have been part of the routine before, but for now they are just out of the question. Your children will be disappointed about not getting their usual Happy Meal, for sure, but it doesn’t have to be a recurring battle. If you sit down and explain that — temporarily — these little luxuries are out of the question and that they just shouldn’t ask, you can get your children on board with the sacrifice. It may take a little while, but they’ll come around to the point that they’ll no longer ask. And then when things are back to normal, the once taken for granted niceties will seem all the more special to them. And to you, too.

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