Helping Kids Cope
A 6-point economic action plan
Talk about important family values.
Explain that your family is not the "stuff" you own. That is just stuff… ok, maybe fun stuff … but only stuff. Your values are that you care about people, or the world -- or whatever your values are. Explain, perhaps, that education is one of your core values, but that there is only enough money for a State school, and that is fine. This is a perfect time to discuss the difference between "needs" and "wants." You "need" food, but you don't need designer coffee every day and you don't "need" to eat out.
Investigate ways to give to those less fortunate.
This is a perfect time to show your kids how lucky they have been. There are lots of kids out there that are less fortunate than your kids. Take them into a soup kitchen, or have them read to the blind, or play games with some kids in a cancer ward. This will raise their consciousness and be more meaningful then saying, "You don't realize how lucky you were…" We don't know how lucky we were.
Organize lists of what you own and owe and what you can sell.
Your kids can do the same with their stuff. They can figure out what they don't want. They are great at using eBay and can help the family to downsize, or they can organize a garage sale. Will the $100 or $1,000 make a difference to your life at this point? No. But it gets your children involved and empowered to be part of the solution. The healthiest kids during 9/11 were the ones who were helping to contribute, and not the ones who were disempowered and told that it didn't concern them.
Also let your kids come up with some other ways to save money: Maybe you can take homemade sandwiches to work (if you are lucky enough to be working), or cut out movies and restaurants and get videos and make pizza at home.
If your kids earn an allowance, don't cut it out, but rather let them contribute back to the family. Again, it makes them feel less helpless, less like a victim and more a part of the family team that is working together to find solutions.
Navigate the rough waters together as a family with honesty and clarity.
Let your kids go to speak to Grandma or Grandpa, or anyone who lived through the Depression. Let your kids hear stories of how the family lived together and shared food with the neighbors and shared laughs and all sat around the radio and listened as a family.
We are now caught up in our "bunker" mentality. We are connected to our Blackberries, alone, or our computers, alone, or our iPods, alone. We have forgotten what it is like to share a family meal, together… give it a try.
FAMILY seems to be the theme here. It is. It is now time to get back to basics -- with our money, with our children and with our lives.
Teach your children in grades 3-5 about earnng, spending, saving and giving in
Meet Neale Godfrey
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