Like you, I’ve been following the volatile developments in the financial markets closely for the last couple weeks. I have to admit that I’ve been more focused on how all these changes will impact me and my family than on how they might impact family life across America. I read a story by the Wall Street Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger (author of the blog “The Juggle“) today that gave me a wake-up call.
Sue’s story, titled “Another Casualty Emerges From the Crisis: Family Time,” is worth a quick read (found it online here). Beyond explaining how the economic crisis will force many parents to give up on their dreams of work-family balance, she suggests that fewer parents will have the opportunity to volunteer time as they are forced to spend more time on paid employment.
A friend suggested the other day that our children may grow up with the same outlook at the children of the Depression. While I don’t think it’s going to be that severe, most school-aged kids are going to pick up on the fact that something big is going on and will want to understand what and why. The thing I’ve found frustrating is attempting to explain what went wrong. I’ve been a student of business my entire life, and yet I cannot give an explanation that is sufficiently succinct to satisfy my two older kids’ curiosity without exceeding their attention spans. I talk, they listen, they cock their heads, I try again, and finally they give me the “okay Dad, we don’t need to know” look and walk away.
Last week’s events will leave a lasting mark on our economy and, in most cases, our families and children. How are you handling this conversation with your kids, and what resources have you found to give them an age-appropriate explanation?