You are now unemployed. For those of us with a spouse and kids, the question is whether to tell the kids or not. My answer is that you have to tell them something. They will notice if you do not get up and go to work in the morning. You can probably fool them for a week or two, but they will catch on really quickly.
It is not a question of do you tell them, it is how much you tell them. All of your kids need to be told, unless they are of an age where they wouldn’t understand at all. My 3 ½ year old and my 6 year old both know that I am not working and that I am looking for a job. In fact, my son has offered to not take an allowance ($2.00 per week for vacuuming the whole house) until I get a job. He says he understands we are tight on money. Smart kid, but it is a sad thing to have to listen to your 6 year old tell you he understands.
The reality is that they do understand. My 3 ½ year old understands that we can’t do some of the things we would normally do because I am not working. She has accepted that there are certain things we can’t afford to buy, right now, but might be able to get in the future. She has a limited understanding of what it means to be unemployed, but she does understand.
As your kids get older, you need to get more detailed with them on the situation. A nine year old has the capacity to understand that everyone needs to pitch in to save money and that daddy or mommy is working hard on trying to get a job. They will also be able to comprehend that daddy or mommy is stressed out more and may not be as fun or frivolous.
Then as you get children into the double digits and into their teens they know exactly what is going on. The older teens may even need to know that you have been out of work for some time and you are struggling to pay the mortgage every month. The demands on a teen in our society bring out the monetary needs daily. The more clued in they are into your situation, the more likely they will be able to curb their needs for non-essential things.
Plus, keeping the older kids in the loop also prepares them for the really big issues such as if you are getting evicted because of your lack of mortgage or rent payments. They will be in a better position to understand why the bill collectors keep calling and you are not answering the phone. There are so many ways that the older kids can be of assistance in this time. Tell them what is going on.
The key is not to unduly burden your kids. The younger ones need to be protected from the actual money issues most of the time. The older kids need to be protected from the marital fighting whenever possible. They also may need to be sheltered from your emotional breakdowns as they occur. They need to know you are mom or dad and you will get this done in the end. It may take time, but you will get a job again.