3 Tips for Coping with Debt While Helping Your Children

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Many people make financial decisions based on what they think will be best for their family – and sometimes people even go into debt out of feelings of wanting to give their family the best things in life. But what happens when debt – instead of just being a tool to help manage money and provide for our families – becomes something that is actually harming our families?

When parents are under financial stress, they unfortunately tend to take out their feelings of stress and anxiety on their kids. According to a recent study, moms who were going through intense financial stress were more likely to yell at their kids and spank their kids. This is one of several studies that suggests that financial stress and excessive debt can be harmful to children's well being.

What are some ways to deal with financial stress without damaging your relationship with your kids?

Take Care of Yourself First

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Even if you are dealing with a lot of debt, try to find easy, low-cost ways to exercise, socialize and relax. Go for walks in the park. Get together with friends for potluck dinners at home. Take a yoga or meditation class at a community center. As the parent to your children, your physical and mental health is important – not just for yourself, but for your kids. When you are feeling happy and healthy, your kids will be happier and healthier as well.

Be Grateful for Your Kids

Even if money is tight and bills are late, take time every day to hug your children. Remind yourself of how grateful you are for your kids. These early years with your kids at home will never be repeated – someday, before you know it, they’re going to grow up and move away. Look for little things to enjoy and appreciate every day, and look for low-cost or no-cost experiences you can share with your kids, even if you have no money left in your bank account.

Take Control of What You Can

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Often when parents are angry with their children – yelling at their children or lashing out in frustration – it’s because the parents feel powerless. Kids can often be very willful and obstinate – creating dozens of little problems and messes and often defying their parents right at the moment when parents need them to cooperate the most. When parents are feeling financial stress or worrying about debt, these little frustrating moments can suddenly appear massively significant. Parenthood can be frustrating for "control freaks" because there is so little that we can truly control. So try to focus on a few things that you can control and that you can proactively change about your personal finances. Can you set a budget, start a savings account, pay off a debt? Start today. Take small steps to feel more in control of your finances, and you’ll likely feel more patient and forgiving of your children.