Lost Your Job? How to Break the Bad News to Kids


Guest blogger Jessica Katz: There is nothing worse than bad news -- especially something like the loss of a job. It's bad enough that you're unemployed, but now you have to explain it to your kids ... and it may start keeping them up at night!

Dr. Jenny Eide, Ph.D, says, "Losing your job is really stressful. When you find out, it's unexpected, and it's hard to contain your feelings. You start freaking out about all of the little things. Take a moment to calm down and be rational before throwing it upon your kids. But be clear that while you will not be homeless, you will have to make different choices. Focus on all the positive things in your life and speak to them in an age-appropriate way. Answer their questions and listen to your kids.

"Job loss is scary for kids, because parents provide for the kids and kids become afraid about how their life will be affected if their parents cannot provide for them," continues Dr. Eide. "'Will Mom get a second job; will we eat' -- these are the questions that may be going through their mind. The most important thing is consistency. Stick with Tuesday taco night and having breakfasts together. If the kids are a little bit older, reassure them that you are taking steps to find a new job. If you have a reward program at home, start making it more cost-effective, like '10 extra minutes at the park' or 'an extra movie on TV.' 

"Making the kids a part of the process will help alleviate the stress," adds Dr. Eide. "Older kids can play games at the grocery store, like finding the granola bar with a coupon. They can even help with coupon-collecting or setting a budget. But if you think you might be losing your job, don't tell your kids until the decision is final. It doesn't help them to be a part of the process then -- it just causes them stress in a situation that they have no control over." 

Kids are amazingly resilient, but they do get stressed. So help them understand that this, too, shall pass.


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