the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and The Flat Broke Cookbook
We are in the uniquely terrible position of watching a whole lot of people suffering financially right now. Not only are you dealing with your own problems, but if you’re like me, you are watching the endless lines at the food banks, the increase of homeless people, families being forced into a nomadic lifestyle by their circumstances, and an overall decline in the standard of living surrounding us. But we can use these hard times to teach our kids resilience.
It’s one thing to deal with your own difficulties, but when the misfortune of others also surrounds you, it can really strain the mental well-being of even the strongest person. Then, we tend to chastise ourselves, saying things like, “What is wrong with you? Jack and Jill next door have it way worse. You have nothing to complain about!”
But you do.
As a person with empathy for other human beings, the overall atmosphere of an economic depression is like a heavy weight pressing down on your heart. The burdens of others become the burdens of all to some degree.
I have found myself almost paralyzed by sadness watching the plight of family members, friends, and even strangers. I help everywhere I can, but I feel like I carry some of their sorrow around with me nonetheless. I have lived in the depths of poverty, digging through dumpsters for food. I know how humbling this life is.
Hard times can change people.
Hard times can change people. Sometimes it’s for the worst, and other times it’s for the better. This is where your mindset comes into play and is most important.
Some people who go through difficult times get stuck in the “why me?” stage. Often, those are the folks awaiting rescue from the government, from friends and family, from anyone willing to help them out. Now, we all need help from time to time, and I’m not bashing those who are in a position where they need a hand up.
But you can’t stay stuck in that place forever. That makes you a perpetual victim, and you no longer have control over your own life. You are like a small boat with no sail or motor, tossed around on the waves, completely at the mercy of the whims of the current.
Others become stronger and more resilient. They learn to make the necessary sacrifices to adapt to their circumstances, and they fight every step of the way to create a new, albeit different, life. And this applies to your entire family. The way you lead them through the difficult times will either make them embrace victimhood or teach them to be strong. In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith wrote:
“Who wants to die? Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It’s growing out of sour earth. And it’s strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.”
A question I’m often asked in interviews is about how I got through my own difficult times, how I took so many hits all at once.
The answer is simple and difficult at the same time. No matter how bad things are, you just have to keep going. The only alternative is to lay down and die.
You can use hard times to teach your kids resilience
When I went through my own hard times, I felt it was my duty to show my daughters that we could get back on our feet through hard work, sacrificing short-term wants for long-term needs, and finding joy in the small things.
It’s up to you to set an example of how to get through hard times with grace and dignity.
You can make your family stronger and teach your children resilience by the way you handle hard times. You’ll find in many cases, this creates resilient adults who are able to withstand the pressure of adulthood without rushing off to safe spaces. You show them how to keep going, how hard work can get you places that by all normal standards you should never be able to reach, and how to find joy, hope, and laughter in situations that are incredibly grim.
How do use hard times to teach your kids resilience?
If you are going through hard times right now, here’s my advice that is tested and true with both of my daughters. We have lost everything – twice – and I used those hard times to teach my kids resilience that they will be able to tap their entire lives.
- Don’t hide it. You’re not doing your kids any favors by hiding reality from them. Instead, you’re setting them up for brutal shock and disappointment when they discover life is not the walk in the park you led them to believe it was. Tell your kids that hard times are happening. Get their input. Let them have a little bit of say in decisions that will help you to dig your way out.
- Don’t play the blame game. An easy trap to fall into is blaming others for your current situation. Your ex-spouse, your boss, your crazy landlord, the shady person who ripped you off, the government…the list could be endless. It may very well be the fault of others, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. You must make the decision to take responsibility and turn things around, regardless of who’s at fault. You may not be able to control what happened to you, but you control how you face the future.
- Teach them the value of planning. When things go bad, you can’t just hope for the best. You need to have a plan. You need to stop all but essential spending and figure out where you’re at, what you must cut, and how you’re going to dig your way out. Be prepared to get radical. Get your family on board with the planning session. Use a whiteboard and write down the budget and let them make suggestions. Try to incorporate some of their suggestions into your plan. Boxed mac and cheese night, walking to school orwork to save gas…let them give you input and let them know you value it by adding it to the plan. Let your kids be part of the team that saves you all.
- Celebrate victories. Don’t only talk about defeat and difficulty with them. Write down your goals for everyone to see. If you are paying off debt, use that whiteboard and write out your snowball method payments. When you get a zero balance, celebrate! (Not all rewards have to cost money.)
While it’s our nature to protect our kids from harsh reality, we protect them more by teaching them to face it head-on. We teach them the value of picking themselves up to keep going. We show them by example how to find joy in small things during difficult circumstances. We influence them to relish challenges and persevere.
How have hard times made you and your family stronger?
Can you remember a time when you became a stronger person through sheer perseverance? Have you used hard times to teach your kids resilience? Or did you take the opposite route and shield them from the difficulties you were facing? Which strategy do you think is best?
Let’s talk about it in the comments. We can all learn from each other.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at Learn.TheOrganicPrepper.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.