explaining foreclosure

Explaining Foreclosure To Kids Isn’t Damaging To Their Psyche But Shocking Them On Moving Day Can Be

Explaining foreclosure to kids is usually the last thing most parents do while facing foreclosure. Facing foreclosure is emotionally tough for adults. It makes them feel weak. It also makes them feel like failures as parents. 

So they don’t tell their kids until moving day or until the sheriff comes to kick everyone out.

Most parents think it will be as rough on the kids as it is on them. That’s not necessarily true. Believe or not, kids usually know something is up. A stressed out mom and dad fighting all the time is usually a sign. They also handle it better than most adults.

So it’s best to just come clean and tell them that they will be moving soon. You don’t need to tell them everything but letting them know will make the move easier. Jayne Pearl, author of Kids and Money Guide to Resilient Children: Teaching Kids to Thrive in Any Economic Environment writes:

You don’t want the stress monster to start walking the halls of your home while you’re still there because children will conjure up scary scenarios about what could be wrong.

Keep it Age-Appropriate When Explaining Foreclosure

When explaining foreclosure to kids who are school-age or younger keep it simple. A brief explanation usually does the trick. MFI-Miami clients who have done this have told me that just saying the following does the trick:

We’re going to be moving to a new place that costs less money.

Teenagers may have already had friends who have had to move because of foreclosure. It’s okay to provide more details when explaining the situation to teenagers. They are usually mature enough to understand what is going on. 

We have to start looking for a new home or an apartment because we can’t afford this house anymore. 

When explaining foreclosure to teenagers you don’t have to mention the word foreclosure if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t bombard your kid with information but invite them to ask questions.

Control Your Emotions

When explaining foreclosure to your kids make sure you keep your own emotions in check. Your child’s response to the upcoming move will depend a lot on your own. Rochelle Harris, Ph.D., a pediatric clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri says:

If you’re very unhappy, angry, or upset about it, your child is going to pick up on that emotional tone and he or she will have the same reaction to it.

Dr. Harris says that doesn’t mean you can’t be honest about your feelings. You can say:

I’m disappointed to leave this home too. We’ve had a lot of fun here, but sometimes we have to make changes we’re not wild about, and we need to make the best of it.

Offer Reassurance When Explaining Foreclosure

Several MFI-Miami clients have mentioned their kids begin to worry about being homeless when they begin to explain foreclosure. The parents put those fears to rest by telling the family that they will have a place to live. Parents need to remind their kids that they love them and are doing the best they can.

Tell Them What to Expect

Kids will still be confused about what will happen to them even with your comforting words when explaining foreclosure. Where will they live? Will they have to change schools? How will they keep in contact with friends? Does the move mean they will no longer be able to play soccer?

The more (age-appropriate) information you can give about what is going to change in the child’s life, the better. Share the information with your kids. If you know where you are moving, feel free to take them to the new neighborhood so they can become familiar with it before the move.

Keep your child in the loop by providing the date of the move (write the date on the family calendar for young kids). This gives them time to say goodbye to friends and make other preparations before moving day.

Live Life As Normal As Possible

Losing a home is already a stressful situation. Allowing it to wreak havoc on your family’s daily life will make matters worse. Keep mealtimes, bedtimes, and other routines normal as possible. If Fridays are normally family game night, continue to whip out the board game each Friday. Keeping your family’s schedule the same before and after the move will help make the transition easier.