Almost every family goes through big financial transitions at one time or another, and it’s not always easy to know how best to handle it. If your job situation has changed, or debts are being collected, or you have a major expense that makes your current standard of living unsustainable, you’re probably thinking about how to tell your family what’s coming.
But how should you broach the subject with family members, make decisions about how to make financial sacrifices, and generally make things easier for the people you care about most, your family? Whether the change is temporary or permanent for the foreseeable future, you can make the transition easier on your family by following these guidelines.
Communicate directly with all decision-makers.
Even if you decide to keep the details of your situation in the family, it is important to be clear and open with all the decisions-makers in the household about what is happening, and do it sooner rather than later.
Prepare them for changes.
Be clear about what the situation means to everyone involved. With adults, be honest and manage their expectations realistically rather than trying to hide the gravity of the situation; this will allow everyone to handle it together, and won’t require you to take on an unhealthy burden by handling it alone. With children it’s often better to break any bad news once you have a sense of what will happen next, and keep things simple, focusing on what they care about.
Avoid discussing stressful details in front of children.
It’s difficult to keep things behind closed doors when the current situation might be all-consuming, but do your best to hide stressful conversations from children, or making comments in front of them that show your anxiety. Children need to believe their parents have things under control (and they benefit from believing it even when it’s not entirely true).
This is the time to sit down and decide what you can afford to keep, and what must be given up in light of your changed situation. It is not a time to squabble over anything petty, but rather to think about what you’re willing to give up for the time being.
Emphasize what won’t change.
Make sure to underline, especially with children, that this situation doesn’t change the fact that you love them and will do everything you can to make things easier. Reassurance is one of the most crucial things to offer at this point, and for the foreseeable future. The same thing is true for adults, particularly spouses; make sure everyone knows they are not considered a failure, and that this is something you’re taking on together, as a team.
Be open to everyone’s feelings.
Encourage members of your family to express their genuine feelings and concerns, at an appropriate time, and make sure they know that they don’t have to have a stiff upper lip all the time—that you can be honest about your fears and that you’re listening. Accept their feelings. Listen. Crying is okay. When you don’t have good words, give hugs.
Set up a support system.
Once you’ve told everyone and made a plan, let some trusted people in your life know what’s going on—even if you don’t go into the details—and ask them to keep an eye out for any signs of distress from members of your family, especially children. This will ensure that there is plenty of support around your child during a time when they need it.
As you make this difficult transition, we’re here to help support you legally, to advise you on what steps you need to take to reduce your debt, to ease payments, and other tactics that can help make things easier.
Call us at 1-800-LA-FIRMA. We are ready to take your calls Monday to Friday. Or, you can book your free consultation by clicking below.