Deciding whether to talk to your children about your bankruptcy is a personal decision that will depend on your unique circumstances. Many parents want to protect their children from money issues at home, but there is also a case for transparency. Here are some thoughts to consider as you make your decision.
When Should You Talk to Your Children About Bankruptcy?
- If they are very young: Many parents will likely decide it’s better to let kids this age focus on growing up. That is probably a good idea. However, if big changes come because of the bankruptcy, such as a move to another neighborhood, you might want to provide some manner of explanation.
- If they are in elementary school: For kids in the elementary school age range, it can help to provide some basic details. If you are going to be busier or less energetic throughout the process, that might worry them. For some children, framing the bankruptcy as positive step towards happier days might be helpful. To create this mindset, consider planning a family celebration or trip to an amusement park for after you escape your debts. This will help them see any difficulties during the process as a step towards something good. It’s important, however, not to explain the issue in a way that causes them guilt or anxiety about the family’s finances. Some children are easily upset by negative news.
- If they are in high school: There is a strong case for being open with your kids if they are a little bit older. Even if you don’t regularly discuss money in the house, they might know more than you think about your situation. It’s possible that if you leave them out of the loop, they may feel alienated and resentful. Of course, avoid being alarmist, but opening up to your teen about financial issues can make them feel empowered and included.
Of course, everyone has a unique relationship with their children. As parents, it’s always a question of judgment on whether to tell the family about a financial problem. Hopefully, these suggestions will spark some ideas for how you can manage these conversations with your kids.
Julian, Crowder & Shuster is a firm of Lewisville bankruptcy lawyers with a passion for helping you and your family escape debts and find a fresh new start.