The day Matt* was fired, he went back home and locked himself in his office—fighting back tears. He did not want to share this grief with his family, especially his kids. Sadly, millions of parents across the globe are in a similar situation due to the pandemic. The effects of job loss on families can span from hardships, strained relationships, ailments, to lifestyle changes and many other problems. Unemployment and financial burden take a toll on the entire family.
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Singapore’s unemployment rate is increasing and is at its highest when compared to the last 10 years. According to the recent labour market report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released on June 15, the overall unemployment rate has increased from 2.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent in the previous quarter. In addition, the unemployment rate for Singapore citizens of 3.5 per cent which has crept up from the previous 3.3 per cent. The long-term unemployment rate persists at 0.9 per cent, which is about 25 weeks of unemployment.
Job loss can impact one’s life in a huge way. Fear, stress and frustration creep in bringing along anxiety and worries. However, taking a few measures like sharing the news with your family—including your kids—and making lifestyle changes can make it a little more bearable.
Importance of talking to kids about your job loss
The effects of parental unemployment can impact the minds of kids. When they see their parents worried and stressed, kids feel the stress too. With the reduced parental income, kids might not get to enjoy some privileges they have been used to prior to their parent’s job loss which can leave them being sad and disappointed.
If not explained properly, it can also lead to them feeling anxious, especially the older kids who might have some understanding of the impact of financial stress. Discussing job loss with your kids and helping them cope up with the stress that comes along will spare them this stressful brunt.
Here are a few points to explain the effects of job loss on families with your kids.
Schedule a discussion with your kids
Explaining the implications of job loss, especially to your kids, can be heartbreaking. But it needs to be done. Seek the help of your partner and pre-plan what you wish to tell your kids. Carry out age-appropriate discussions.
This is extremely important, as kids of different ages will draw different conclusions based on what you explain to them. Address their concerns. Discuss the job loss and how it might impact their lifestyle.
Share your future plans
In the event that you already have plans on your next steps for your career, this is a good time to share it with your kids. It could be your next move to lookout for a new job, start a business, relocate, etc. This is also a great technique to address your kids’ concerns. Knowing that you already have a plan in mind, your kids will be relaxed and will understand that this situation is temporary. However, do not affirm things you might not be sure about. Be honest that you do not have the answers right now and will get back as soon as you have them.
Be honest and polite
Be realistic. No parents wish for their kids to go through any kind of financial stress. And so, it is highly possible that you might sugar coat the bitter truth and present it to your kids. Make sure that you do not do this. Explain to them the seriousness of the situation. Your kids might have to make some sacrifices like having quieter birthday parties, fewer new toys and clothes, cancellation of holiday trips, and the list goes on.
As a parent, you may be quite tempted to provide plenty of unrealistic assurance to your child just so that he or she does not get upset with the news. However, this will only fill your child with false hopes, which will lead to both you and your child being disappointed.
As much as it is important to talk to your kids about losing your job, it is also important to take care of certain things during your discussions.
- Cut out the negativity: Losing a job can fill you with doubts and negativity. Do not reveal your worries and doubts to your kids. It is hard for them to see their parents (read: role models) go through tough situations. Focus on talking about what you are doing or plan to do to overcome the financial stress.
- Skip the serious talks: Worried that you might not getting a better job than the current one? Are fears of not being able to pay your loans haunting you? Well, it is best to not include your children in these conversations. Educate them about your current situation but make sure that you do not spill all your tension on them.
- Do not vent your frustration in your kids’ presence: Before discussing your job loss with your kids, make sure that you have control over your emotions. Do not cry, sound panicked or vent your frustration in front of your kids. This will upset them and only make matters worse for you. The effects of job loss on families can be overwhelming. But remember that this is only a temporary issue and will pass off sooner or later. Talking about your job loss with your family will strengthen you with moral support and prepare you for a bright and better future.
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