Dark Clouds Can Surface

Withheld news feels like bad news. 

Even perfect families hit a few potholes along the way.  We adults often attempt a classic cover-up—at all costs, keep bad news from the kids.  Sometimes, even our spouse or partner.  The reality is, family members have extrasensory perception . . . they can feel the dark cloud vibes in the air.  No matter how you try to fake it, they know something is up, or wrong. 

When bad news hits—a job loss or cutback, a death, accident or critical illness—it is normal to try and protect your loved ones from the news and its possible impact.  Is it good to attempt to keep it from them?  Probably not.  They know you too well.  They can sense your anxiety, fears and concerns.  It’s as if they can see and hear through walls and doors. 

Years ago, I went through a devastating business loss.  A partner had stolen several hundred thousand dollars from one of my accounts.  Needless to say, it changed our lives.

 At the time, my kids ranged from 12 to 16.  I told them that things didn’t look good and that there was a possibility that we could lose our home.  They were also told that no matter what, I loved them and would make sure that there was some type of roof over our heads, and that there would be food and heat and that they would have sufficient clothes to wear.  The basics of life. 

I promised to answer any questions that were asked.  My family was told not to make demands—that I needed all the energy I could muster during this difficult time.   In the end, we lost all material assets—our home, investments, even my business.  We were broke. 

Because I told my kids what was happening, there was support, even encouragement, from my closest rooting section.  We were in it together—we were a team with a goal for survival and surviving together. 

When Bad News Hits

If you are facing a sticky situation—a reduction in pay, potential layoff, money problems, or possibly someone you care for is critically ill or has been injured—call a family meeting.  Your concern should not be, do you let your family (or friends) know how bad it is? Rather, it should be how do you let them know? 

Tell them the truth to the degree that each can understand for his or her age.  Do it sooner, rather that later. If your news involves a work or money problem, assure your family that you love them and will make sure that there will be ample food, heat, sufficient clothing and a warm bed to sleep in.  If money is an issue, tell them everyone needs to cut back, no frills allowed.  And, when it is over, if it is, call another family meeting and let them know you, and they, survived.   

If it’s something that hangs around, let them know you are hanging in there, give them a mini-update based on what their age can understand and absorb. 

It’s your turn.  Get out your pencil and identify problems and issues that may be creating a cloud over your household: 

What problem(s) do you need to talk with your family about?

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How did they react?

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How do you plan on letting them know what happens?

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Your Final Money $mart Tip 

There is a difference between being wealthy and being rich.  Wealth is all about money.  Being rich is how you live your life.  Even when money seems on the short side, you can be incredibly rich.                  

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