A parent’s job loss or any significant change or disruption to your employment status can be difficult on the entire family. Especially your children. Your children know when something’s wrong. They are sensitive to changes at home, and it can be stressful for them. If you’re a parent facing an employment gap or disruption, here are some tips to talk to your kids about the situation.

First, take some time to collect your thoughts and manage your own emotions about the change in your employment status; especially If the disruption was sudden or unexpected. These changes can be stressful and your children will certainly pick up on your emotions. Take a mindful moment to calm your mind before talking with them. A simple breathing exercise, a quick walk around the block, or a moment to write down some of your thoughts can help you clear your head and organize your thoughts all while utilizing your strengths of love and perspective.

When you do talk to your children, be honest with them about the situation. Let them know about the change as soon as you can and answer any questions they may have. Allow them to guide the conversation. Ask them what it is they would like to know about the situation. They will be curious about the situation and may have questions you cannot answer or may not be ready to. Keep your answers age appropriate and lean into your family’s values. Try and keep the conversation brief, but meaningful and be sure to note their reactions. Set an intention to follow up again in a few days.

Explain how the situation may affect the family. A change in employment will be accompanied by changes in your family’s routine. You’ll quickly discover that these changes can be stressful for your children and for you! Explain that you may be home more often, but will be busy seeking new opportunities and may need to shift your schedule with little notice to network or go to an interview. Discuss possible lifestyle changes as well. This is an opportunity to develop your family’s strength of perseverance. A night out at the movies may become a night at home watching an old favorite DVD or Blu-Ray. Dinner out may turn into your kids helping prepare their favorite meals at home.  If your children are old enough you can teach them about the strength of prudence by discussing finances and the economic struggles that may accompany a prolonged period of unemployment.

Go, Team! Now that you have your family together and are talking about this situation, what’s next? Develop a plan for moving forward. Maybe Dad never had the chance to drive the kids to school, or Mom missed one too many games or dance recitals because she was working late. Plan a new routine around your new situation. Use your strength of creativity to maximize any extra time you have together as a family. Involving your children in the plans will help them feel connected and may mitigate some of the stress they are feeling. Focus on their strengths of curiosity and love of learning by allowing them to take the lead on planning fun family activities. Take this time to imagine what the rest of this year could look like if you genuinely connect with your family by focusing on everyone’s strengths, taking time for mindfulness and being more intentional with the time you have together.

Parent Strong. Parent Mindfully. Parent Purposefully. A period of unemployment can be a tough time for your family. Now more than ever, it is important to focus on your family’s strengths, be intentional with your parenting, and take time for mindfulness. Beech Acres Parenting Center offers Natural Strength Parenting™ Coaching which can help you navigate this and many other parenting challenges. Your first session is free. Use this session to help you develop strategies for discussing this or other parenting challenges with your kids.