How to Talk to Your Kids About Being Poor

Heartbreaking news from America's schools: children are approaching their teachers to ask what they should do now that their parents are unemployed. How embarrassing. Parents, don't let your kids blow up your spot. Talk to them about their newfound poorness.

  • Put it in terms the child can understand: Bad:"Declining demand for manufacturing has trickled down to my field, actuarial services, through the normal economic processes." Good: "Remember when you had toys? Now you don't."

  • Don't lie. Bad: "Daddy has a new job far, far away. That doesn't pay anything." Good: "The world has changed, rendering daddy worthless."

  • Provide your child with solutions they can implement themselves. Bad: "Just go to your room while life as you know it collapses around you." Good: "Don't come back in this house until you've collected 500 cans."

  • Reassure your child that everything will be okay. Bad: "Everything will not be okay." Good: "Everything will be okay [CROSS FINGERS BEHIND BACK WHILE SPEAKING.]"

  • Inform your child that this situation is common. Bad: "God, what will the neighbors think? Well, I know what the Kimmelmans will think, the bastards. He got a boat two weeks ago, and now this? How can I ever face him again? Greg fucking Kimmelman, Mr. Big Shot with a pretty wife and a boat. He's been waiting for this day since I made the varsity basketball team in high school and he didn't. And here we are. God, it's all so horrible." Good: "You've never been to the west side of town but soon you will be, and you'll fit right in."

  • Gently explain what's going to change. Bad: "Breakfast and lunch are out of our price range now, and so are your precious Chicken McNuggets and macaroni and cheese and any sort of prepared food at all, for that matter. You can stand to lose some weight anyhow, kid." Good: "How would you like to eat nothing but candy bars?"

  • Make sure your children know that this is a private matter. Bad: "Tell your teacher about this and I'll smack your little ass so hard you won't be able to sit down for a week." Good: "Tell your teacher about this and daddy won't love you any more."
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