How Your Debt Effects You And Your Children

You already know that debt causes you stress but now we know that it can negatively effect our children too. So if your debt didn’t make you feel crappy enough, how about this extra kick in the nuts?

A new study shows that children whose parents have “unsecured debt” are more likely to experience behavioral difficulties than kids whose parents do not. These difficulties included depression, aggression, or withdrawal.

Of course debt causes stress and if we extrapolate, we realize that this stress trickles down. Maybe you don’t treat your children differently but perhaps they sense your stress anyway and your stress becomes theirs?

What makes me sad about this study is not that innocent children are victims. What I find more sad are the parents who feel so much monetary pressure that they cannot contain it within themselves. It makes me want to ask this question:

What if we all offered ourselves a little more understanding?

We all know debt is bad but debt is not a personality flaw. It does not make you a bad person. It does not necessarily mean you are gluttonous or materialistic or stupid. A lot of good people find themselves with “unsecured debt,” such as medical or credit card bills that can drown them.

I’ve made this point time and again: we are given an uneven financial education in school. Life is expensive. Creditors benefit from our lack of knowledge and resources. We are culturally predispositioned to live in debt. It’s the American way.

So when things go south, why do we take it out on ourselves? And consequently our families? We shouldn’t. We shouldn’t take a capitalistic failure so damn personally.

To often we confuse good capitalists with good people. I’ve known great people who were terrible capitalists. Capitalism is no more than the system we live in. It isn’t necessarily the best system. It isn’t the very essence of our souls. Failure to thrive in the complex web of capitalism is not a personal failing. Donald Trump is a great capitalist. Is he an awesome person? Please don’t comment on Donald Trump in the comments section. Argue that on my husband’s Facebook wall.

Debt makes us feel powerless. Every child development book I’ve ever read — and I’ve read several — tells you that a child acts out for one reason alone: powerlessness. The same is true for adults. We act out when we feel powerless. Unheard. Trapped. That is what debt does.

So acknowledge the stress from your debt and give yourself a bit of a break. Not a break at paying it off but a break at the emotional cutting it is making you do to yourself. You allow for the fact that it may not be your fault completely. If you can truly do that, you can plan your way out of it without emotional paralysis. Because let me tell you a secret: Creditors work with the most proactive people. Creditors prey off the most powerless. I know debt makes you want to stick your head in the sand but there are benefits from not doing this. Most debt can be restructured. I can talk about debt creativity in another post. (Note to self: Do that.)

In the meantime, realize the emotional impact your debt has on you and your children and let that steam out of your head. It hurts you and it hurts your loved ones and you are more than a credit card bill. Also, this ugly pattern can replicate itself in your children if you don’t fix it with understanding in yourself. A friend of mine who is a family therapist once told me: “In therapy we have a joke that there are no coincidences. Just look at your family history.”

Click here to stay in touch with my email list. I’ll work on that creative-debt restructuring post presently!

Note: This is a repost from my personal site,, which I hope you will give a visit and a follow.

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