Kids in Divorce Recession Style

In any divorce, the children are going to have changes in their lives.  Most parents want to minimize trauma for their kids and have them move forward with the same opportunities available to them when their parents were married.  Realistically, that’s not always possible, whether the economy is good or not. 

Sometimes a parent will intend to sacrifice everything financially for their children.  As noble as this sounds, it might actually do more harm than good to the kids.  If a mom or dad is not able to be financially self-sufficient later in life, the adult children will feel obligated to take care of that parent.   Since the kids probably weren’t old enough to make a life decision like that during the divorce, being saddled with that obligation later in life can be pretty unfair. 

So the best thing each parent can do for the kids is be an excellent role model for financial responsibility and self-sufficiency.  Don’t make financial commitments for activities, trips, and even higher education that you can’t afford.  Young people will learn about the value of moderation and being conscientious if they make some sacrifices during these difficult economic times.  They’ll see the benefits later, even if they don’t now.  It’s also okay to give your kids choices.  If your children are involved with choir, band, soccer, and tennis, but you can’t afford all those after the divorce, let them decide which activities they want.  Also, all of us parents do well to avoid buying affection or trying to assuage emotional trauma with money. 

Another good lesson for kids during the double hit of divorce and recession is that bad times don’t last forever.  The economy will recover.  And they will heal from the sadness of the divorce.  Keep lines of communication open with your kids.  You may also need to keep lines of communication with your ex-spouse open more frequently than you’d anticipated.  You’ll be co-parents for the rest of your lives.  And while the kids are spending lots of time in either of your households, you should endeavor to have some consistency between parents on your financial messages. 

It should go without saying, but don’t put your kids in the middle of disagreements with your ex.  Whether the economy is good or bad, that’s a given.

If you want more on the subject, go to www.brightleitz.com to order a copy of We Need to Talk – Kids & Money After Divorce.