Who is Generation R
Recently the report from the U.S. Labor Department delivered ominous news that the jobless rate hit an all time 25-year high on top of a tumbling stock market sending more shock waves to our weakened economy. There is no doubt that these are unprecedented times. Today parents are faced with dealing with the anxiety of job security, income, an even worse, foreclosure. Children can see it in their parents' anguished faces and hear it whispered in kitchen conversations. These times are not easy on the adults or the children. Yet, unlike many of those children of the Great Depression whose hard times ended up negatively influencing their choices and opportunities as adults, we can help these Generation R children cope better.
Who is Generation R?
- These are the children that will be affected by this unprecedented economic Recession of 2009.
- They are the first generation that has totally embraced the computer/technology age creating an "I see-it-therefore-I-want- it" attitude.
- Computers have created a virtual reality a part form the real reality making it harder to not ask or want material things in an era of belt-tightening on the financial home front.
How Parents Can Help Children Deal With Family Financial Change
Parents may unknowingly pass on the stresses they feel about the economy to their children. Children are very astute about picking up on the tone of voices, facial expressions, and overhearing those hushed conversations they weren't suppose to hear. The good news is that this is an excellent opportunity to invest in instilling strong social and emotional coping skills.
Here are some strategies to use to help children deal with financial change:
- Help children fill in the blanks in their perception of what they think is going on: Children, especially younger children, will construe the actions and words based on their own interpretation and use of imagination to fill in what is not explained to them. It is best to explain and communicate what is going on effecting the family. For younger children use a simple and concrete way of explaining the economic issues being faced by the family with patience and understanding. Younger children are concerned about safety and security, so assurances that they will be safe and cared for is an important message to get across.
- Express feelings in a way that children can cope and understand with: Tone of voice, body language, and words all convey emotions. For example, if fear is the dominant emotion being expressed in a panicky way, children will pick up on this. By expressing "I'm feeling scared but that's ok it's just a feeling and I'll be fine" in a calm voice and non-threatening manner, you've set the example of expressing your feelings but not being overwhelmed by them.
- Focus on what children can have instead of what they can't have: Maybe the big family vacation is out of the question right now, so plan fun, family day trips together. Perhaps, revive the "family night" by eating popcorn and renting free movies from the library.
- Say "No" from an empathetic point of view of a child's perspective:
- The reality is that children like to ask for things whether they really need it or not. Use words like "I understand how you feel … (sad/angry) not getting that new toy or dress" instead of yelling about their selfishness in times of financial woes. In a world that has gotten more materialistic than ever before, children are used to that "I see-it-therefore-I want- it" immediate gratification attitude and they may not understand that the money well is dried up. If you show empathy voicing it to them from their perspective, they will show empathy back to you.
Ask Dr. Andie
Questions can be submitted through the website and if possible, will be answered either in the Q&A section or in the Power2Relate Newsletter.
Recently, my husband lost his job that he had for over ten years. Although he's being looking for another job (hasn't found anything yet in his field), we've been avoiding telling our two children about his job loss. Can you give us me a specific example of how we can word explaining about his job loss in a way that our kids can understand?
Use an optimistic thinking approach in explaining the family economic situation and your husband's job loss by avoiding words like "Always" or "Never", that paint a permanent picture rather than something temporary. For example, " I'll NEVER get another job, this ALWAYS happens to me!" and switch it to optimistic, temporary wording such as " SOMETIMES people lose their jobs, but I'm doing everything I can do to find a job, and I know we'll get through this". There is a silver lining in this tough time that your family is going through. By being a role model on how to solve problems and deal with a crisis effectively will teach children handling future life challenges.