How to talk to children about unemployment, coronavirus impacts on family

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Frustration is mounting in Florida over unemployment issues, but there’s a deeper issue parents face — talking to kids about it. How much should parents share with their kids?

Natasha Pierre is the vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses in Hillsborough County. She stresses, that all children are different and process information in their own way. She believes talking with them about what’s happening in the family is important, so they aren’t left up to guessing.

“Children are left to create a story of why they can’t get the cereal they want, or why mom and dad are home and that can have really, really negative effects,” says Pierre.

Pierre advises parents to be sensitive when talking to kids. Many children see mom and dad as their safeguard and protector, and they may be confused or even scared. Even if kids and teenagers don’t seem to be aware of financial impacts on the family, Pierre says they more often than not are and may be nervous to broach the subject.

She encourages families to sit down and have a conversation about why life is the way it is because of the pandemic.

“This isn’t just a suck it up you can’t go approach, but more of an ‘I understand how you’re feeling. This is weird and difficult for all of us. What can I do to make this time fun for you? Tell me how frustrated you are,'” says Pierre.

As for adults who are facing these challenges, many are finding themselves having to file for unemployment for the first time in their lives. That can create short tempers, strain relationships and take a big toll on mental health no matter the situation.

Pierre reminds people, there is going to be a lot of added stress to already struggling families, and families who’ve never had financial worries. She advises people to approach this with calm and patience and to take some personal responsibility to maintain stress levels and control what you can.

“So that means if you are going to be looking for work, if you are going to be filing for unemployment online, do so at a time where you aren’t stressed, where maybe you can have some space from the children, away from the rest of the family,” says Pierre. “Do it at a time where you are prepared for whatever frustration may come because there will be frustrations.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has Zoom meetings that anyone can attend.

Starting in May, the meetings will be held every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. For more information, visit the website, https://namihillsborough.org/.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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