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Talking to Your Children About Bankruptcy

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: October 15, 2013

Many parents who are going through bankruptcy don’t want to worry their kids with the financial details of mom and dad’s life. Yet, when there is stress in the home, the kids feel it, and it may worry them more that something is happening but they don’t know what it is.

Social media throws an even bigger wrinkle into the problem. All sorts of sharing or gossip is going on in other homes, so your kids might even hear about your financial problems from their friends—or their friends’ parents–first.

Here are some tips for talking to your kids about bankruptcy

  • Preschool and elementary-aged kids: Keep it simple. Tell your children what the problem is in terms they can understand, and make sure they understand that it’s not their fault. Also, wait to have adult conversations about the problem after bedtime. Even if you think you are playing it cool, your child can identify your signs of stress. If they want to do or buy something that you can no longer afford, explain that to them and offer an alternative. Children are still pretty flexible at this age and adapt easily.
  • Tweens: Children this age are more aware of the world around them, so if the economy is bad all around them and your household economy takes a hit, they may not be caught completely off-guard. You can engage in some pretty straight talk about your situation at this age. Hold a family meeting to answer questions, or talk to each child one-on-one, whichever suits your family best.
  • Teens: Not only do teens understand what’s going on, they will be keenly aware of how it will affect them, so be straightforward in addressing those issues with them first. You may want to make this a teachable moment and include them in budgeting and planning, or at least show them the big picture. You can also ask them for suggestions on how they can help out and use this as an opportunity to give them more responsibility.
  • Young adult: It can be harder to talk to adult children about financial shortcomings, since they look up to you in this area. However, having an adult child in the house can be a plus—you can start charging rent or have them chip in for utilities or groceries. Some children will be really proud to be able to step up and help.

Over the past 21 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 2,300 clients protect them and their families in order to take control of their financial situation by stopping wage garnishment, stopping foreclosures, canceling judgments and preventing creditor calls.

Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More