I come from a family that didn’t discuss finances with children. Not budgets, salaries, expenses, nada. My parents were good with their money, but they just didn’t feel like we needed to know details. So I never thought of us as rich or poor, but I also never paid attention to anything financial.
I try to be more open with my kids. But with this pandemic going on, I keep forgetting just how often our kids are listening… or overhearing. A few weeks into our quarantine, our 10-year-old had a meltdown. Turns out she was worried that we couldn’t work and that we had no money.
Not Our Best Parenting Moment
You see, the night we found out our business closure went from three weeks to three months, my husband and I processed it live, right in front of the kids.
Earlier that evening we had piled onto the trampoline and put on a movie on the laptop, trying to make the best of this weird time. As the movie ended, we all watched the stars come out. It was pretty magical.
Thennnn we went inside. My husband had left his phone there, and as he checked it he groaned. A group text was exploding over our governor’s new executive order. This was mid-March, and we learned we’d be closed until June 15.
We stared at each other. Then I said, “That can’t be right… let me find the actual order…” My husband starting listing what this would mean and what we would have to do. He was on his phone, I was on the computer, and we were upset, talking and processing.
And we sorta forgot the kids were there.
They started to pepper us with their own questions, but I sent them upstairs to get ready for bed. We tucked them in feeling totally numb, weakly reassuring them we’d be okay.
Over the next days and weeks, my husband and I started gaining hope through loan deferments and emergency funds and Small Business Loans. However, we forgot to pass that hope onto our kids.
So when our sweet daughter broke down crying that day, I realized we needed to fill her in.
Kids Need a Plan Too
We wrapped her sobbing body in our arms, and simply explained our financial situation. I told her how much our family usually spends a month, but that right now we didn’t have to pay some big things, like our house and our student loan. We let her know we had an emergency fund of $8,000, and we had a tax return and stimulus checks on their way. Our business was getting help too.
As she did the math, she calmed down. We weren’t losing our home, we could still eat, we were safe. She got it.
Our kids have been champions through all this. It’s impossible to shield them from all worry, but it is possible to help kids cope with uncertainty. This was a good reminder that just as budgeting and tracking our money has brought me peace, it can bring children peace too.