How To Tell Your Kids You Lost Your Job

A tough topic for many parents during these tough economic times is how, when and where to break the bad news to your kids when you've lost your job.

Laura Berman Fortgang, career and life coach and author of "Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction," shared the dos and don'ts of how and when you should tell your kids that you've lost your job with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Loosing your job can be very emotional and a ton of questions flood in such as "How are we going to pay the bills?" or "How do you know when the right time is to try to begin to explain this to your kids?"

"And now with coaching we're doing with a lot of people going through this, and what we tell parents is you don't want to go to the kids the minute you've learned and all your shock and horror and everything else, but you want to go to them pretty quickly because they're going to pick up on what's going on in the house," Fortgang said.

"They have radar. They know everything," Smith said.

"So, you can't lie. That's the golden rule. Do not lie. But you have to find ways to make it palatable," she said.

There are different approaches depending on the age of your kids.

"To a very young child, 'fired' could mean, 'with a gun?' Or laid off 'like or you were laying down and mom kicked you off?' So, you need to use language that's clear, concise and right for each age, certainly," Fortgang said.

"Would you have a cutoff? I mean, 3, 4, 5?" Smith asked.

"Well, under 5 is going to have that radar probably sharper than anybody else. So, our research has shown that you want to talk to the under 5 in clear terms. Everyone needs to be reassured at any age. Everything's going to be okay. We're going to get through this. Mommy and daddy will try and do everything they can. It's not their fault," she said.

Teens, who are also consumers, are very involved in family spending.

"They have a voice in everything it seems like these days," Smith said.

"And an opinion. And they're going to think it's not fair. You want to discuss right and wrong," Fortgang said.

There are ways to get them involved as well and make it into a family project.

"If you empower them by helping in the solution, they will feel more secure. So whether it's something as simple as letting them help you send the resumes out or cost-cutting ideas. 'Who's going to be in charge of turning lights off all the time?'" Fortgang said.

According to Fortgang, parents need to have a "panic room" -- not where you go if you think someone's in the house, but the panic room where you or your spouse can go and have your moment.

"Have your conversations in a different part of the house. Try to avoid over dinner or in the common areas, to have the most dramatic conversations," she said.

Fortgang stresses trying to keep a sense of normalcy in the house.

"If we always have dinner together, keep having dinner together. If you go out on Friday nights, you might have to make it a cheaper event. But maybe even movie night at home. Keep fun in the home. Keep things going as normal as possible," she said.

"The new normal," Smith added.
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