The impact of parents' layoffs on children

Dr. June Ching
Dr. June Ching

By Leland Kim - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - Our economy doesn't seem to be getting better. Unemployment numbers in the U.S. could reach the ten percent mark by the end of the month. In Hawaii, it's a bit lower, at seven percent and while it obviously impacts those who've lost their jobs, it also has a significant impact on people with families.

It is a more complicated situation when you have to worry about providing for your family and there's also the difficulty in how to tell your kids you got laid off.

It's the worst recession in a generation. About 9.7 percent of Americans are now out of a job. That translates to more than six million people. Losing a job not only has a financial impact, but a psychological one as well.

"Many people also see their job as part of their identity, meaning it gives them a sense of self esteem and that they're doing something valuable," said Dr. June Ching, clinical psychologist. "And their self esteem can go through changes or can take a downturn."

Dr. Ching has had almost thirty years of experience helping adults and children. She says for job seekers with families to support, they deal with additional pressure.

"That's an opportunity in which the parent can be very proactive," she said. "And they can tell the kids with my not working any more, these are the things that are going to be changing in the family and I want your input, have them in the decision making and planning."

The worst thing to do is not tell your children anything.

"And some of them feel they're protecting the kids by not telling them what's going on," said Dr. Ching. "But what happens is kids will then resort to imagining what is happening and they'll also have some pretty catastrophic fears about what's going on."

Dr. Ching says parents can avoid that by focusing on the positive aspects.

"This means I have extra bonding time with you, I can pick you up from school, I can take you to your baseball practice, I can be one of the coaches that are there," she said.

By including children in discussions, parents help reassure their kids and allow them to have realistic expectations of what's going on.

"You can still have good memories that are building from those kinds of times also," said Dr. Ching. "You can talk about cost savings and how they can help out and then kids will feel like they're part of the solution."

The worst isn't over yet. Economists predict unemployment numbers will continue to climb until 2011. So, if you need help dealing with what's going on, you can click here or go to the link to the Hawaii Psychological Association on this page.