Our focus this month at Ministry to Parents is Encouraging Parents through Seasons of Change. One of the biggest transitions in a family is the loss or change in a parent’s profession. Today’s post gives you 5 ways to talk to your kids about a job loss.
How do you talk to kids about losing your job? How do you help them understand a situation when you are struggling to understand it, as well? Keep reading for the personal testimony of one father and his encouragement to seek God in all things–especially an unexpected transition such as a job loss.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing in front of the sliding glass door, waiting for my wife to get home. My two children arrived from school and were immediately excited and confused as to why I was home so early. I worked hard to hold it together. They eventually grabbed a snack and headed upstairs to do homework. I held my ground at the door while the pit in my stomach continued to grow.
My wife finally pulled in the drive. She stepped out of the car, saw my face, and left her bags behind. She could tell that something was wrong.
We quickly moved upstairs to talk quietly and privately. Earlier that day, I was removed from my position, effectively immediately. There was nothing moral or ethical in the decision, but they felt I was not a good organizational fit for the future.
Overwhelmed by emotion, we worked to process and answer each other’s questions. Eventually, we collected ourselves and invited our children to join us in the room to talk.
At the time, our children were in middle school and early high school. We had previously been through a job transition, so we did not want to wait to talk with them. As we shared about the situation in transparent and honest terms, we allowed them space to take it all in. We talked for a while, and then they left together to process and pray on their own.
What do you do when you are fired, let go, or laid off? How do you help your kids process something you are still trying to process yourself? How do you offer your kids assurance and security, when you are not sure of it yourself?
In my story, I discovered 5 ways to talk to kids about job loss.
Preparation is a critical element in this process. Before you talk with your kids about any significant change in your family—especially a job change—make sure you are ready for the conversation. Your job loss may affect your children in major ways. It could result in a move, a school transition, or a move to a different church.
Do not talk to your children, “off-the-cuff.” Know when, how, and what you plan to share in advance. As you prepare for the conversation, consider every detail, including the setting and the tone you want to use.
Avoid the temptation to speak out of your hurts, frustrations, or disappointments. Take the time to process your feelings, so that you can be prepared to help your children process their own.
It is easy to try and save face by making other people the enemy or leaning the truth in a way that makes you look better. In these moments, honesty is critical.
Whether it relates to the reasoning behind the job loss or plans for the future, handle yourself with integrity and honesty. Otherwise, when the truth comes out, your children will have a poor example of how to deal with difficult circumstances.
Honesty does not require full disclosure. You can be open and honest without disclosing every detail. Be sensitive to the age and stage of your children. Younger children need necessary information wrapped in reassurance. Older children may demand more details, but look for opportunities to discuss and pray through the situation in healthy ways. You do not want to cause additional anxiety and hurt.
Job loss is a normal part of life. Long gone are the days in which people work for the same company for 20-30 years. Industries, businesses, and even ministries are changing, which means people are transitioning more often, as well.
A job loss can be a learning moment in the life of your family and children. Use this situation to teach how to be a Godly employee and job-seeker. Show your family the importance of hope and trust. Your life can be a living testimony to the faithfulness and sovereignty of God.
It is easy to act negatively during a negative situation. When you vent or complain out of hurt or frustration, it often produces empathy from those around you. It feels good to have someone on your side. But your complaints only sow more seeds of negativity and hurt. Don’t put your children and family members in that position. Take your hurts and questions directly to God.
If you need additional help, seek out a trusted friend, ministry leader, or professional counselor.
Above all, seek joy. Tough times will produce strength and perseverance for the next step in your journey if you keep your focus on the One who holds all things in His hands.
God is faithful, so choose to stand firm in the faith of God and His Word. As you do, you will display Godly leadership.
Your children see the strength of your faith when it is tested. God will use these moments to teach you and your children about His goodness, provision, and love.
Take and make moments for family prayer times and discipleship. Walk this uncertain journey with unwavering certainty in God. When this season is over, continue to talk about and remember how God worked in and through this time.
Your job loss will be a childhood memory for your kids. Will it be blanketed in sadness or marked by faithfulness? As a parent, you have the power to shape and influence these memories.
A job loss may be a turning point in the life of your family. But, it is not a dead end. God doesn’t waste anything. Use the opportunity to grow the faith of your family and point your children to Him. If you are in a season of change with your profession, I hope these 5 ways to talk to your kids about job loss gives you a new direction.
Dan Istvanik is a student pastor and the student ministry team lead at Keystone Fellowship Church, a multi-site church outside of Philadelphia, PA. He has been working in youth ministry for 25 years, serving in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC. He is a speaker, ministry coach, writer, and contributor to other ministry resources. You can contact him at www.mymresources.com.
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