EDITOR’S NOTE: City Dads Group is working with longtime partner Dove Men+Care to create “how to” videos for the grooming products company’s “Dads Care” campaign. We will be featuring the videos and scripts our members appear in. This one features Brandon Billinger and his son, William, discussing what to do when a parent is unemployed.
I have been laid-off twice, and it was a blow to my self-esteem. I felt like a failure to me, to my wife, and to my kids. It was one of the low points of my life.
I knew that for my kids it would be difficult to understand the gravity of what just happened. Being unemployed would be a drastic change to their lifestyle as well as mine. Here are some tips to help make this conversation easier for you and to help your kids understand the changes in your family’s life.
Kids like to talk. They will tell their friends and other that you lost your job. The key here is to wait before you have this conversation with your kids. Be sure to tell your inner circle so they are not blindsided by a comment your kid makes while playing with friends. This means it could be a couple of days until you are ready to tell your kids. By waiting to have the conversation, it will help you get your ducks in a row like filing for unemployment, starting a job search, and internal processing of what has happened to you.
When you do talk to your kids, the most difficult thing will be helping them understand how this change is going to affect them. For most kids, your job was just something you went to on a daily basis and they heard you talk about at the dinner table. For most, it isn’t something tangible.
The biggest change for them will be in lifestyle. This could mean they stay home with you rather than go to daycare. The next thing to tell your kids, and quite possibly the hardest for them to understand, is that you might not be able to spend as much money as you used to. This may mean that those small purchases of a toy or a piece of candy may not be happening like they used to.
Another part of the conversation that you will want to have is to let your kids know that you are going to ask more of them during this time. There are going to be times when you need them to be quiet as you take a phone call from a prospective employer. Or there will be an hour or two every day that you spend searching job boards.
Let your kids know this change is only temporary and you will all come out better in the end because of this.
The best part of this conversation that I would leave for last is to let your kids know that they will get to spend some more quality time with you. Being unemployed while raising kids might seem like a tall task but it’s a great opportunity for you and the kids to bond in ways that you weren’t able to before. It will also help your overall demeanor to spend that time with them. Get outside, go to a playground, go to a lake and go fishing, explore your city, play some video games with your kids.
With these simple tips, talking to your kids about being unemployed will be a bit easier, more relatable for them, and leave you and your kids hopeful and more optimistic about the future.