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Teenagers And Money - What To Do When You Lose Your Job

May 30, 2008
Q: Recently, I lost my job where I was employed for the past 12 years. It was unexpected, and we do not have a lot of savings. I am concerned about my teenage son and daughter. We live in what I guess you could call a typical "suburban" area where most families earn between $50,000 to $95,000 income. We have a nice house, both parents work, and my children enjoy a "nicer than most" comfortable lifestyle. I do not want my job loss to disrupt their lives, but I also know the limits on our family budget right now. What should I do?

A: Given these economic uncertain times, you are not alone in your financial struggles. Many families today are experiencing the effects of economic downsizing. Most teenagers may be aware of the economy, but may not really understand it until it hits home personally with a job loss or financial troubles.

First, if your teenagers do not know about your job loss, it is best to tell them. Something like that would be difficult to keep a secret from them. Also, they are old enough to understand the legitimacy of these real life problems. If you hide it from them, you rob them of the opportunity to grow from it. Honesty is always best in these situations.

When you tell them, you do not necessarily have to tell them all the specific details of your job loss. Whether your company dismissed you or your job was eliminated as a result of downsizing, it is none of their business. Sharing the details can make it awkward for your teenager's, especially if they knew and had any kind of a relationship with your employer or other staff members.

Next, it would be helpful to talk to them about their feelings. They may be experiencing a lot of fear, envisioning their having to move leaving their school and friends. Or they may experience some anger because of how this will disrupt their lives, and blaming you in the process. Remember, the teenage years can be full of self-focus. Or they may even be embarrassed because so much of the teenager culture is based on how you dress, what you wear, and how you look. All of that costs money, which is limited right now. Allowing your teenagers to express their emotions will avoid further problems that come from suppressing their emotions.

Third, define any expectations you have of them. If you feel like you are going to have to make some modifications to your family budget, then tell them. Be honest about what changes they will have to make in a non-threatening and non-anxious manner. Remind this is a family issue, but not their responsibility to solve. In addition, this can be an excellent teaching opportunity to educate your children about healthy financial management skills. If there is something they want but is not an essential, then have them turn their own creative juices loose to find a way to pay for it themselves.

Finally, get some support for yourself as a parent. Check out the local support groups that specialize in rebuilding careers, unemployment or some individual counseling. Inquire about any community service agencies that offer sliding scale counseling services.
About the Author
Are you looking for more practical solutions for parenting your teenager? I invite you to check out http://www.parentingyourteenager.com/ where you will find more information to help parents and teens become better friends when they feel like enemies.
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