I once had a conversation about the economy with a friend who has four kids ranging from 11 to 18. “I don’t want them to overhear us,” she cautioned, as we moved into a different room. “I don’t want them to get stressed or anxious about the economy.”
I don’t agree with her position. My kids are always overhearing discussions between my husband and myself about the economy, about the state of the world, about our personal finances, about politics. They’re not left to speculate and suspect the worse because their parents are sneaking around and speaking in whispers.
Besides, it’s all over the media. How could they help but hear what’s happening?
Children, especially young ones, have an astounding ability to internalize things they hear, and often turn it around to blame themselves. If the family is in financial difficulties, the kids think it’s their fault. If the parents get divorced, the kids blame them selves. Believe me, it’s far, far better to matter-of-factly involve the kids in whatever issues you’re handling, as long as you present it in a manner commensurate with their age.
Once you involve the children, ask for their help. Get their input. See what kind of ideas they can come up with. You never know… depending on their ages, they might surprise you.
Since we’re self-employed with a seasonal business, we have always been upfront with our kids about our finances. We invite their participation and help in how to economize during lean times. We treat them during times of plenty.
So don’t hesitate, depending on their ages, to solicit input from your children, as well as their cooperation. If they know daddy lost his job, it makes them feel good to ask for $3 sneakers from Goodwill instead of $120 sneakers from the mall. Doing so puts them in control of their requests and lets them contribute toward the family’s strategy to weather hard times.
When it comes to prepping, it’s best not to shelter your children – prepare them! Let them learn what it takes to keep body and soul together in hard times.
This also applies to prepping tools and equipment. Rather than “sheltering” children from handling dangerous tools, teach them to handle everything from a pressure canner to a chainsaw to a gun with safety (within age-appropriate limits, of course). These items are powerful tools, but they must be handled correctly or injury can result. For preppers, teaching the use of tools should be just as important as teaching history or science. If your children are prepared to handle tools, they are prepared to use them when the occasion warrants.
Our modern society tends to coddle and protect our children from all “dangers.” I believe this does them a disservice, as children learn from experience. Teach your children safety in handling tools, then let them practice under your supervision. If you try to keep your children “safe” by forbidding them to handle knives, guns, power tools, etc., then what you get is children who cannot think for themselves and who are careless and irresponsible about potential dangers.
But involving children is more than just teaching them to properly handle tools and equipment. It’s teaching them to create delicious meals out of basic food items. It’s teaching them that money doesn’t grow on trees. It’s teaching them that an economy can change, and they must roll with the punches with financial blows happen. Rather than “protect” your children from these truths, give them the dignity of learning how to handle them, and involve them in helping mitigate the problems. The key here is action. Action always alleviates fear and uncertainty.
Children who grow up unsheltered (within reason) about the realities of life mature into capable, competent adults who are able to cope with those realities. Don’t do your children a disservice by sheltering or protecting them. Involve them.