Unemployment, You, Your Children and You (Part 1)

Editor’s Note: This is a hilarious guest post from reader Amanda Hahn. Amanda is a recent graduate from Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. She runs the blog, “I want to work for The Onion.”

Unemployment: it affects nearly 14 million people every day in the US, and it can last anywhere from a number of days to a period of years. Today, the only known cure for unemployment is employment, which is becoming more and more rare as the millennium progresses. So if you are unemployed, know that you are not alone. Many, literally millions, of others are right there with you. Despite this, the effects of unemployment can be hard for you and your family. Symptoms include distress, extreme weight loss, extreme weight gain, moodiness, an obsession with refreshing Craigslist jobs pages, jealousy of the employed, and a copious amount of free time.

If you have children, they may notice you going through these changes. These can be scary times for you both, but with the steps outlined below, together you can ease into unemployment.

PART ONE:  TELL YOUR CHILDREN

The time to inform your children is not immediately after you discover you have lost your job. If you tell your children right away in a calm manner, they will have no way of knowing how frightening, stressful, and worrisome unemployment can be. You want your children to fear unemployment so that in the future, they will be encouraged to get jobs.

Instill this fear in them while they are young. Do so by barging into the house when you first come home after receiving your pink slip. Carry a small box of random desk items. Children fear boxes filled with items because they signify change. Children, especially those with Attention-Deficit Disorder, dislike breaking routine. After they become anxious upon hearing you stomping through the house and seeing you carry the box, begin angrily mumbling under your breath. If you are unsure what to mumble, that is okay. You can literally mumble anything so long as you do so angrily and do not enunciate enough for them to understand you. In fact, the less they understand, the more upset they will become. Answers to any questions they have at this point will only decrease their nervousness.

If you have hair, run your fingers through it as you mumble to highlight your distress. If you do not have hair, this is good, as you are already exhibiting symptoms of stress. Or perhaps male-pattern-baldness, but your children will not be able to tell the difference. The next step is to go to your room and close the door.

If you have a spouse or partner, this is a good time to inform him or her of your job loss. After some valuables are broken in anger and tears are shed, it is time to again focus on your children. Your partner can help greatly with this. Have him or her step outside the room silently. If the children ask what is wrong, your partner should be vague to increase tension and create suspense. He or she should say things like, “Everything will be okay…no matter what,” “I hope we get through this,” and “I just don’t know if God is looking out for this family anymore.”

At this point, your children’s stress levels should be close to peaking. If they are crying, you can pat yourself on the back; you have been extremely successful so far. Now is the time to tell your children the truth. Take a seat as a family in the living room or other central location. Tell your children that you have lost your job and hope to find a new one soon.  Many younger children will not understand the gravity of the situation, so really drive the point home by crying and making statements regarding the terrible job market. Make the possibility of finding a new job seem bleak. Emphasize that money will be tight, meaning less vacations, toys, and food. Throw the possibility of no presents at Christmas into the mix. If your children respond that Santa will bring presents, be brief and say that Santa doesn’t like poor kids.

Your children should now understand the severity of your unemployment. To go the extra mile as a parent, go into your bedroom, and do not come out of it for a few days.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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