Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tough economy isn’t child’s play - Chicago Sun-Times

While long-term unemployment and the foreclosure epidemic is challenging family members of all ages, there is reason to worry that the stress and uncertainty children face today will thwart their ability to thrive in the future, experts warn.

“It’s not only a life-changing experience for the adults that are losing our jobs, it’s also a loss for the kids,” said Williams. “Whatever happens to us is a domino effect happening to our kids. The most important thing is our babies.”

Indeed, there is growing evidence that a parent’s job loss adversely affects how children behave, how they achieve in school and even how they do in the job market later in life.

“Whenever parents are stressed out, children sense that stress,” said Lynn Knobloch-Fedders, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of research at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. “That creates a lot of uncertainty for the children.”

For one thing, job loss can shake up parental roles.

“That can be unsettling for the entire family,” Knobloch-Fedders said. “Let’s say the father is at home and was not at home before. The father has to adjust to being at home. The mother has to adjust to having the father take over some of those responsibilities, and the children have to adjust to a new family environment and a [different] parent’s approach to homework and activities and things. That’s often a very difficult transition for a family.”

Regardless whether Mom or Dad loses the job, children more often have trouble at school.

When low-income mothers suffer job losses, there is a 40 percent increase in problem behavior among children in the classroom, according to research by Heather Hill, assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. That problem behavior ranged from children being more withdrawn and showing signs of depression to such things as acting out, disobeying, and being physical with other kids or teachers, she said.

Problems can occur at higher income levels as well. Children were 1.6 times more likely to repeat a grade if their father lost a job, research that focused on middle and higher income families found. The research by Ariel Kalil, professor in the U of C Harris School of Public Policy Studies, also found children were more likely to be suspended or expelled from school and less likely to attend college.
This is a good article. I never thought in terms of the children and how they may weather the job loss of a parent.

There are some saying that the economy is rebounding. Sometime last month the numbers for unemployment has come out and indicated a decrease in unemployment.

Here's hoping 2012 is still a better year for many, although we should all recongize that there is an election next year. :P

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