Virtually all of us have been touched by the recession in one way or another. Money troubles are stressful for everyone involved, including our kids. Here are some quick suggestions for positive ways to cope with a difficult economy:

  1. Remember that materialism is not a happiness habit. Use this time to embrace the non-materialistic things in life that do bring happiness, like family dinners at home. This is also a great time to combat entitlement with gratitude.
  2. Practice hope. Although despair might come more naturally when we are struggling, remember that optimism is a skill that we can teach children. Difficult times offer more opportunities to model and practice seeing the glass half full.
  3. Embrace challenge as a way to grow together. As our family has cut back our budget dramatically, the kids and I are having fun seeing where we can save money. This has made us more resourceful, disciplined, and less wasteful—all things that are happiness habits both for our family and for the planet!

If you are really feeling stressed economically, a huge body of research shows that reaching out to others can make us healthier and happier. One study showed that people with financial problems who provided social support to fellow church-goers were buffered from the stress of the economic strain, while people who received the support were not. And helping others will often undo the physiological damage that stress does to our bodies. So although we might feel like we need to hunker down and take care of ourselves most when we are feeling economic strain, helping others is sometimes the best way to help ourselves.

The Recession and Our Kids

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© 2009 Christine Carter, Ph.D.

Selected References

Fredrickson, B. L., R. A. Mancuso, C. Branigan, and M. M. Tugade. "The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions." Motivation and Emotion 24, no. 4 (2000): 237-58.

Kasser, T. "Frugality, Generosity, and Materialism in Children and Adolescents." In What Do Children Need to Flourish? Conceptualizing and Measuring Indicators of Positive Development, edited by K.A. Moore and L.H. Lippman. New York: Springer Science + Business Media, 2005.

Krause, Neal. "Church-Based Social Support and Mortality." Journal of Gerontology 61B, no. 3 (2006): S140-S46.

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the link from your email is not working.

Cindy | 9:22 am, August 11, 2009 | Link


Hi Cindy and others,
Yes, sorry about that, the final video link in the email doesn’t work.
However you can access the video above, or view it by clicking on this link:


Christine Carter | 10:49 am, August 11, 2009 | Link


I am struggling with this tough economic time while trying to raise my 4 year old daughter and my fiance’s 2 boys. I appreciate any advice I can get through your e-mails. Thank you very much.

A. Wilkison | 2:15 pm, August 12, 2009 | Link


Dear Christine,
I haven’t benefited from your precious materials since 9 May. I am very pleased with the resumed posts from you. Whenever I checked for new e-mails, I would be a little disappointed because of no email posts from you. I am sorry for not expressing my gratitude for your good will, though I was supposed to.
“Finding the Good in a bad Economy” is a timely issue. Its underlying spirit corresponds to the Korean proverb, “Turning the hardship into the Happiness” (전화위복, 轉禍爲福, Jeon Hwa Oui Bok). I am critical of the fashionable parenting of Laissez-Faire. In Korea it is a biased reaction against the pre-industrialized parenting of emasculating patriarchy. One of the vulnerabilities of the Laissez-Faire parenting is children’s inability to go through hardship. In my opinion, parents should teach the various experiences of the earthly hardships and pains with sufficient affection and in consideration of the child’s age. “Under the thunderbolt and no damaging rain the plants grow stronger.” So do the children.
The failure might become the father of the frustration and the repeated, more critical failure or the mother of the perseverance and the wisdom depending on the loser’s attitude. The same principle applies to the interactions between the parents and children in the face hardships, whether unexpected or expected. And parents should remind their beloved sunflowers of the tragic reality, that is, that we are breathing and eating among the starving babies and children which amount to several hundred millions.
Part of the time-tested wisdom of the Koreans is “Sharing the suffering and Sharing the Fellicity” (동고동락, 同苦同樂, Dong Go Dong Rak). Wise parents should embody the immemorial lesson that genuine happiness turns back against Mammonism and embraces compassion for the suffering.


HYUNG ROG CHOI | 11:42 am, August 14, 2009 | Link

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