While you might dread telling your children you are out of work, it probably will go better than you think. From a psychological perspective, it is most likely that their emotional response will parallel yours and your spouse’s. A positive attitude does not only affect your chances of getting another job, but is also critically important for the mental health of your family.
Start by discussing the approach you intend to take with your spouse. Be sure to take your children’s ages into account. Kids are not “little adults.” Their thinking skills do not completely develop until adolescence. The younger the child the more concrete is their thinking. Be clear and specific with young ones. “Mom will be working at home looking for a new job.” “Dad wants to find a better job.” You may want to set house rules for when you are on the computer or having a phone interview.
Teenagers can be egocentric. They are likely to question how your unemployment will affect them. Be truthful, but avoid being too dramatic. If cutting back expenses will alter their lifestyle, let them know ahead of time. Ask for their input. You might be surprised at how well they step up to the plate.
If your youngster expresses concerns, acknowledge her feelings as well as the issue. This a good time to use what is called “active listening”. If asked, “Will this interfere with my going to college?” before responding, label the feeling your child is expressing. “You’re worried about paying for college, aren’t you? Let’s talk about ways we can make it work.”
When all is said and done, it will be your attitude that prevails. If you stay positive, the children most likely will.