Your house is your child’s safe haven; it may even be the only home they’ve ever known. When you find out that you’re losing your home to foreclosure, or you have to sell your home to avoid foreclosure, it can be devastating as a parent to explain why you have to move out to your child. As much as you want to shield them from the reality, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to let your kid know about the foreclosure.
Instead, you should take the time to plan early and make sure that their transition during this tough period goes as smoothly as possible.
Explain Things in Their Terms
Children 10 and under won’t need a detailed explanation about the foreclosure process. Instead, just tell your young child that you are moving to a new house that costs less money. Older children may already know about the family’s financial struggles or have friends whose families have lost their homes to foreclosure. They’ve undoubtedly heard adults talking about “The Economy.”
Allow your children to ask any questions they have to; if they’re old enough to ask the question, they’re old enough for an answer. The level of detail will vary depending on their age. You don’t have to use the term “foreclosure” or go into specifics about your financial situation; just give them the essential info and make sure you offer plenty of reassurance about the new move.
Cope with Your Own Feelings First
Losing your home is an emotional blow, and it can even cause you to quickly fall into depression. Make sure that you talk to a loved one and, if necessary, a therapist. Have your emotions under control before you start discussing the impending move to your kids.
Children are incredibly perceptive and will be able to tell if you’re on the brink of tears the entire time you speak. This will convey the idea that they have to be worried, too. It’s best to hold off on breaking the news until you have your own feelings underway and a concrete plan in place, i.e. making the decision to sell the home before foreclosure or moving to a new town.
Tell Them What to Expect
If you’re moving to a new school district, your child will have to know. They need time to prepare and say goodbye to their friends and classmates. Will they have to stop taking certain extracurricular activities, or will their favorite restaurants and playground no longer be close? Maybe you’ll even be staying with a relative for a while until your family’s finances are more stable.
Whatever lies ahead, help your child prepare while telling them what to expect as well as giving them new things to look forward to. For example, if your child has to move away from their current school, start telling them all about their new one while showing them pictures from the website and talking about the new neighborhood.
Allow Them to Be Sad
Your children may be angry or even cry when they hear that they have to move. Reassure them and offer as much comfort as they need. Things will get better, and they will be okay. This is a difficult adjustment for everyone in the family, and it may be your child’s first experience with loss.
Let them mourn, and help them learn how to talk through their feelings. Throw a special “goodbye party” in the house and take lots of pictures. If there’s a little piece of home they can take along with them, bring it to the new place.
Foreclosure is not the end of your family, but it can mark the start of a new financial beginning. If you haven’t already, consider consulting with a financial advisor to help you build a stronger future.