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Talking to Kids About Layoffs

Know Your Options

If you're struggling to find a new job in this shrinking economy, you should know that there are plenty of options available for the unemployed. Says Bodnar, "You will have access to unemployment benefits. If worse comes to worst, you still have social services, welfare. There is a safety net for people who are in these situations. Take advantage of the resources that are available." In other words, even if your financial situation is precarious after the loss of a steady paycheck, you should still be able to make ends meet, provided you're willing to put in the time and effort necessary to explore your options.

If push really comes to shove, Bodnar says, "People underestimate family resources. If something drastic happened to a member of your family, other family members would come to their assistance. Most people will not be out on the streets. That's not going to happen to most families."

How Kids Can Help

Kids can also pitch in. Bodnar suggests things like babysitting, mowing lawns, or shoveling snow as ways that kids can make money. "They won't make up for what you may not be earning, but they're not coming to you if they want to buy a new pair of shoes or jeans. If they're earning their own money, it helps the family and gives them a sense of power, control, and contribution." Younger kids can help simply by agreeing to cut back on favorite treats and toys.

You may even look at a layoff as an opportunity to make a long-desired career change, or the chance to pursue an advanced degree. The important thing is to be prepared, and make sure that everyone in the family is on the same team if and when hard times arrive. No matter what your situation looks like, talk to your kids about what's going on. They'll thank you.

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