Many parents going through a hard time financially never mention debt in the presence of their children. But today’s kids are smarter than you think, and they can usually sense what’s going on at home. What they can’t understand is why. As a responsible parent, it’s up to you to explain to them your financial situation, why you are in debt, what you are doing to solve the problem and how they can help.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your children about debt:
- Choose the right time to talk: Something as important as a debt problem should not be discussed just any time or anywhere. Therefore, you should choose the right time to talk. Create a comfortable and casual environment to have a discussion about debt and finances. Let your children know that you welcome any questions or concerns about the situation.
- Start by talking about your financial difficulties: Although your children probably already realize that you are stressed financially, start the conversation by talking about it. Tell them how you have not been able to give them the things they want and then go on to discuss the debt.. You don’t have to give them the exact figure; it’s enough for them to know the approximate amount.
- Explain to them why you are in debt: Once they have understood that the family’s difficulties are because of debt, explain to them why you are in debt. This is an important part of how to talk to your children about debt. If the kids are young, it’s not necessary to give them the nitty-gritty details. But older children may want to know the full details and you should answer all their questions truthfully.
- Tell them how you are going to solve the problem: After they have understood the reasons, tell them about the steps you are taking to solve the problem. If you are planning to sell your home or make other major lifestyle changes, then be honest about it. Explain to your kids how they can help out and be involved in managing money properly. Once they have fully grasped the situation, they will be more than willing to help.
- Be cheerful and positive: Do not make the mistake of talking and acting like all is lost and there is only darkness ahead. This could have a negative effect on the children. Be positive about working towards becoming debt free. If you are confident, they will feel confident.
- Don’t make it sound like they are to blame: Many parents mention school fees and other expenses related to the children. While you may mention these casually, you should never make the mistake of emphasizing them. Children often blame themselves for their parents’ financial problems; so you should make it clear that they are not to blame.
Remember, your children will feel better during a time of family crisis when they know that their parents are facing the situation head-on. Explain to your kids that you are doing all you can to keep the family safe and secure. Contact Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada to get started on a personalized debt management plan that can help you and your family achieve debt freedom.