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Explaining foreclosure to your children- when in doubt tell the truth

Children can sense what your dealing with. Tell them the truth because they could be imagining a lot worse.

I ran across this article on the Lexington Herald: How to explain foreclosure to your children.

It reminded me of a recent short sale I listed.  I sat down in the home and talked with my soon to be clients.  They told me that two of their children (college and early career age) knew that they were in foreclosure.  The other two (teenagers) apparently had no knowledge of their parents foreclosure.  They wanted to know why they were moving and their parents simply told them that it was because they wanted to downsize so they could pay for their college.

I remember telling them that likely their children actually did know… atleast that something was up.  I just remember all the little secrets I know that my parents didn’t know I knew.

The question of how to communicate about a difficult financial reality is important.  For me as an short sale specialist it’s easy for me to focus on the technique of selling a house and the best practices of doing a short sale.  However value I bring to my clients actually is not that I sell their house or help their credit.  Ultimately it is the ability to give them back their life and allow them to enjoy the things that are important to them… like their family.  Family is central to your home.  Your children are important to you.  You don’t want to handle this in a way that increases their stress.

This article brings up a valid point.  Whether your children know the details of your financial woes or not they feel your stress.  Most children have an uncanny ability to tune into their parents emotions and manifest these perceptions in varying ways.

My belief is that you should be very honest and down to earth about your adult problems.  Don’t worry about burdening your children.  Not knowing what is wrong can lead to children thinking they are the cause of your issues and feeling guilty about that.  Remember you are raising adults… not children.   Letting them in on your issues instructs them and prepares them for life as an adult.  You can actually allow them to peer into your life as you emotionally navigate through rough waters.  As they see you go through difficult times and come back it can become a story they treasure.  One that gives them strength when years from now they hit a tough patch in their life.

Part of my belief in being very honest and transparent with even very young kids comes from my background as a foster parent and some of the training I’ve gone through in dealing with children traumatized both from abuse and simply because they have been ripped from people they know and deposited with complete strangers.

Skillful therapists will talk through gory details of abuse even at young ages because the children still need to process it the reality of trauma.  Young children learning information will adapt and get over even horrific details of their past.  However in the absence of this truth the children will be left to create their own story based on something that is not truth.  It will seem to work for them but it will cause tremendous fall out later in their life as they approach adult hood.

My advice is when in doubt.  Tell the truth.

Some folks are afraid word will get out if they tell their children.  Well I got news for you.  A foreclosure case is public record.  Your neighbors and your friends and your kids friends parents may already know.  I don’t know your hardship or your story, but for many us it was our desire to impress people we didn’t really even like anyways that got us into our over leveraged American nightmare.

Stop worrying about others think and start enjoying your family while taking corrective action to make your financial life better.


Andy Morris is an Ohio real estate broker with an expertise in selling homes on a short sale. If your Ohio home is heading towards foreclosure or you owe more than your property is worth, please call Andy at 888-4-STOP-IT to see if you qualify for a short sale with your lender.  Are you not in my area?  His foreclosure answer service is free to you as well!

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