Tips for Sharing Difficult Plans with Your Kids

Planning for retirement includes planning for your end-of-life needs. Making important decisions about your medical care, where you intend to live, and how you want your estate managed if you become incapacitated or unable to manage your own needs is part of being a mature adult. 

Kids are not adults and should not be a part of planning unless…

  • There is a terminally ill parent 
  • An abrupt accident has taken place 

Both scenarios are highly unusual but they do happen and there is no avoiding the realities facing the family. What is appropriate and important to share with children under these circumstances? 

Here are some tips for sharing difficult plans with your kids.

Tip #1. Be age-appropriately honest- If there is a terminal situation or a fatal accident, there’s no denying what is happening; however, the language you use and the extent you share the details should match the maturity and development of your child. Be honest but censor your truth through a filter that is age-appropriate. 

Tip #2. Get help- Whether it’s a counselor, clergy member, trusted friend, or family member, get some outside help. Having more than one person on your team to share supporting your children can make a big difference. Every person who is involved will have a unique impact on your children and make it easier to digest and manage difficult plans. 

Tip #3. Ask questions- Checking in with your children and asking them directly how they are doing can help them feel better about opening up and sharing their feelings. Making it all right to talk about how they feel can help them cope better and make sure they don’t have any confusion or deep-seated issues they may need help with. 

Tip #4. Keep things simple- People form attachments to experiences so keep things simple. If you have tough news to share, keep the environment neutral and safe. Don’t go out to dinner to share tough news or try to make things easier over an ice cream cone. This can ruin ice cream for your children for the rest of their lives. Keep things simple and direct in a neutral space so the main focus is the issue at hand.  

Everyone wants to protect children from pain. That’s always the preferred choice but sometimes it can’t be avoided. You can share tough plans with your children if you use safe and sane guidelines that are age appropriate and surrounded by support.

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