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Financial Coping Strategies for Parents and Teenagers

Jake’s boss called him in for a meeting on Friday; it was the week before Thanksgiving. Jake was being laid off. He would get unemployment and three months of health insurance for his family. After that, he was on his own, left to somehow support his wife Beth and their daughter Sara. His first instinct was to hit the bar for a few beers with the guys in the neighborhood before telling his family the bad news.

Coping With Unemployment

When a parent loses a job, takes a pay cut, is trapped in unfulfilling work, or experiences a long period of unemployment, the whole family suffers. Both parents and teens may be tempted to turn to unhealthy substance use.

Here are some suggestions on how to manage the crisis, while staying sober and sane:

  • Mom and daughter forming a heart with their hands while embracing on a park benchTake Some Quiet Time
    First, Jake took a little time to himself. He drove past the bar, and decided to take a walk in the old cemetery where his dad was buried. Giving himself a little time to reconnect with his spiritual side made it easier for him to face his family with the bad news.
  • Communicate
    When he got home, Jake spoke to his wife first. It was important that he and Beth maintain a solid front, so their daughter would feel secure. By dinner time, they were prepared to tell Sara that dad would be looking for another job, and that everything would be okay.
  • Enjoy Some Quality Time
    For the next few months, Jake took on more of the childcare responsibilities. He took Sara to school and picked her up. He went on her class trips, and the other kids thought it was fun to have a dad along. On weekends, instead of feeling exhausted after a week at the office, he was able to take her to museums.

Getting Back to Work

It took some time for Jake to find a new job. But the time with Sara helped him make it through. Instead of thinking of himself as just the economic provider, he realized he was the emotional provider, too.

When he did get a new job offer, he was relieved…and Sara was also happy about the news. But the layoff made Jake realize something: his life was dedicated to taking care of Sara and Beth. When his co-workers invited him out for happy hour, it wasn’t so hard to say no. Instead of feeling tempted to relapse, he longed to get home to his family.



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