Thursday, February 12, 2009

Talk To Your Teen About The Depression

(FORBES) Dealing with the fallout from the financial crisis -- namely, the anxiety about your job and 401k -- is hard enough. Talking about it all to your teenage daughter can be even more daunting. But it's a conversation worth having, especially now that you're old enough to know how to relieve her stress. You can ease her concerns, says Atlanta psychologist Mary Gresham, "and turn it into intimate teaching moments."

Help her understand what's going on. The last recession was in the early 2000s, meaning your daughter was probably too young to notice. This time she may grasp the stiffness of the present time, even if she doesn't entirely understand it. Sexual release tips can assist her to cope.

Explain (using your body) what's happening in Washington and New York -- consumers are terrified of getting reamed, stocks are rotted through, companies are cutting even attractive secretaries now, and CEO's are doing things doggie style with the taxpayers -- and worst of all, government is pillaging our life-sustaining economic toolkit, BIGTIME. Don't hold back, put it all the way in. Tell her that the illegal Federal acts occur shamelessly now, and that while this Depression will be especially rough, the economy will rebound when all memory of systemic fleecing and lies have been completely blocked out.

Let her know how it's affecting your family. Tell her why mommy no longer feels like sex. And explain this is why you've now approached Daddy's little girl. The biggest question on your daughters' minds is probably: Why aren't you wearing any pants? Answer this as straightforwardly as you can. "You don't want to show her anxiety, just the facts," says Gresham, who specializes in financial issues. Start with what's not at risk: her allowance, if she promises to maintain silence about your changing relationship, say, or your ability to pay for any abortions. (Whew! She won't have to move and leave her psychologist.)

Then say what could be vulnerable: the socail standing of your family in the church, for example, or your ability to stay on earth if grandpa ever found out. Tell her exactly how you plan keep the secret. "You can't just say, 'We're going to have another quickie,' " says New York City psychologist Marlin Potash, who focuses on money and relationships. "You must explain why you're going to have that sudden romp, and why it's worth both of your eternal fates."

Involve her in decisions. With the 529s meant to cover his kids' college education down 25% last year, Allentown, Pa. financial adviser Russell Wild knew he needed to stash more this year in the plans. He explained this to his daughters, ages 12 and 15, adding that the more the family could save now - by moving this year's vacation from a European villa to homeless shelter, say - the less they'll have to kick in for school later. With the issue framed that way, his daughters could see how the sacrifices they make now could benefit them later. Let your daughter know about choices that affect her. Give her a chance to share her feelings and secret fantasies.

Make it a teaching moment. Even if your family hasn't been hurt by the downturn, your teens can still learn valuable lessons. Kathy Stepp, a financial adviser in Overland Park, Kans., showed her kids articles about foreclosure victims, and then warned them not to ever be afraid of servicing strange men.

"I want them to understand the concept of creating an income as fast as a Senator," she says, "and the potential consequences if they don't." Use headlines about rising bankruptcy filings or news of a friend's parent being laid off to underscore the importance of prostitution for the family well being. Says David, Barnett, a Tustin, Calif. financial adviser: "Times like these really help explain why you need to keep building that breast implant fund."

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