Helping your kids weather the recession

May 28, 2009 7:38:33 PM PDT
Losing a job or struggling with your finances can take an emotional toll on your family, and your children are not immune from it. 7 On Your Side has advice on how to protect your kids from the recession.

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Zoe's mother is in-between jobs right now and the whole family is feeling it.

"The financial situation has made it harder for us as a married couple, too. And I guess that could affect our daughter," says Zoe's father, Thomas Gronbuk of San Francisco.

Cynthia Huey of San Francisco is struggling to find work. She says news of layoffs make her children sad.

"They see a lot of cutbacks, a lot of layoffs like all the car industry. My kids get very sad about it when they hear stories like that," says Huey.

Christine Carter is executive director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. She says life's struggles should be shared with children.

"I think that there's no reason to hide challenge from kids because what that does is it teaches them that difficulty is bad," says Carter. "And in fact, life is full of difficulties and kids are likely to face all different kinds of difficulties in their future, too."

She says kids take their cues from grownups. So adults can use their troubles to teach children the virtues of resiliency, gratitude and optimism.

"It's OK to make mistakes. It's OK to face challenges. It's all in how you learn from the mistakes you make, in your outlook in life," says Carter.

Huey had to tell her daughter she would not be able to go to a UC school because the family could not afford it. She hopes her daughter understands.

"It kind of helps having friends and relatives that explain and say it's alright to go to just a junior college versus a UC college," says Huey.

Even those losing their home can come out of it stronger.

"Families can come together in these very difficult moments and say, 'you know what, I'm feeling sad. We're all going to be grieving over this terrible thing, having lost our house, but we still have all the things that really matter in life. We have each other,'" explains Carter.

Gronbukt and his wife are trying to spend extra time with their daughter during these rough economic times. He sees better things ahead.

"I think we're seeing the end of it," says Gronbukt. "For the most part we're doing fine, but it's a little bit of a struggle."

One other note of interest, studies show that in times of stress, doing something for others can evoke positive feelings. You might want to consider volutneering at a place of worship or perhaps a food bank.

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