If you’re facing foreclosure, chances are, stress is probably your constant companion. Most likely you alternate between feelings of extreme anger and complete helplessness. Did you know your child is feeling the same way? He will most certainly be affected by foreclosure in a variety of ways, none of which will be positive if you don’t communicate with him. Left to his own interpretations, he will most assuredly come to the wrong conclusions about your anger and frustrations.
Although you may feel completely isolated when foreclosure strikes and not know where to turn for support, it’s important to remember that you aren’t being singled out. Foreclosure is a catastrophic event that is happening to the entire family, not just to you alone. If you’re bewildered, scared and angry, imagine how your child is feeling. Shutting him out and not communicating with him about the changes taking place will only cause his imagination to run wild. It’s important for you to keep control of your emotions and not let him interpret your behaviors on his own.
Losing a Home Can Be Difficult
Losing a home because of your inability to pay is embarrassing. It’s difficult to face inquiring friends and family and admit you’re being foreclosed. To a child who hasn’t been informed about what foreclosure means and whose cognitive skills are not fully developed, foreclosure becomes the monster in the closet. If he hears you talking in hushed whispers about sneaking off in the middle of the night to avoid the neighbor’s questions, it could translate into a fear that you may abandon him while he sleeps. He may begin fighting you when it’s time for bed; He may not sleep well and begin doing poorly in his schoolwork. He may even withdraw from his friends and become clinging and demanding. Additionally, if he overhears you fearfully ranting about being thrown out of your home, he may think someone is going to burst in and physically harm you. It’s best to talk to your child and let him know that you are in control and that you will survive the hardships together.
Imapact of Foreclosure on Children
Don’t count on your child’s natural resilience to carry him through an abrupt upheaval of his life. An unannounced uprooting from his surroundings can have a profound effect on his social, educational and health development. Changing his school without scholastic preparation may cause him to fall behind in his studies due to differences in school curriculums: Trying to catch up can lead to feelings of overwhelming helplessness which, in turn, can lead to the development of low self-esteem, a damaging self-concept that will affect all areas of his life well into adulthood.
Low self esteem is the culprit that plants seeds of social castration. The ridicule among his peers of being dumb can have long-term devastating effects. Peer acceptance and conversely, peer denigration are the most powerful motivators for behavior in adolescents. Ridicule can trigger the onset of depression, a dangerous medical condition that often goes unchecked in children and teens and is the leading cause of suicide among children under the age of 18.
Foreclosure is heartbreaking and difficult but it isn’t the end of the world. You can eventually emerge from the situation and in many ways, emerge as a stronger family. Through any crisis, there are lessons to be learned, but you have to search them out. Talk to your child. Let him know that although the family may have fallen on hard times, you will survive it together. Challenge him to think in terms of riding the waves of new adventures; encourage him to offer suggestions that might make the transition easier. The key element to your family surviving foreclosure is communication.