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Parents Aren't Only Ones Who Feel Stress of Unemployment
Date:3/25/2010

chologist at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy Studies.

"Typically, people formerly thought of job losses as happening mostly to low-income families," said Kalil, who has studied the issue. "What is important about the present recession is how many middle-class and upper middle-class families have lost jobs and are experiencing economic insecurity. That kind of unexpected shock can have psychological effects on parents that can trickle down to kids."

Unexplained anger and anxiousness are common signs of emotional distress in children, said Marta Flaum, a child psychologist from Chappaqua, N.Y. Rapid changes in social behaviors, including aggressive acts, and school performance are signs as well. Pre-teens and teens may be the most affected because they are more aware of what's going on around them and feel the social consequences of unemployment more acutely. There's less money for extracurricular activities, and their home life may be upended.

To help children emotionally withstand the financial downturn, Walker and other experts offered several tips for parents:

  • Talk with your children about the new reality in your family, but try not to communicate panic. Be hopeful and reassuring as best you can.
  • Listen to your children.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety, worries and fears; some of them may be subtle.
  • If you sense a problem, talk to your child's teacher first. If it's a serious problem, seek psychological help.
  • If your marriage is struggling, try to make it better. Marital discord adds to a child's strain.
  • If you or your partner is experiencing excessive anxiety or depression, get help.

One unemployed parent who took these tips to heart is Colin Fox of Brewster, N.Y. Fox was laid off from his job in internal communications in 2008. His wife, Sue, still works, but their two teenage boys know that life is not the same anymore
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