The Effect of Economic Woe

We see the signs everywhere.  The economy is bad. Oregon has higher unemployment than most states. Malheur County’s unemployment rate is even higher than the state average.  Surviving and taking care of our families in this difficult financial time is very hard.  What we often do not see is the impact of all this on our children.

Make no mistake, children know when something is wrong.  Younger children (like less than a year old) can sense it.  They often react with their own tension.  Children at age 3 can hear whispered conversations of the adults in their lives, and they can hear and feel the uncertainty and worry.  By the age of 5 a child is verbal enough to be able to talk about the worries and even offer to help.

One of the delights of parenthood is being able to make our children happy.  Many of us have used “things” to accomplish this.  Suddenly, we are not financially able to buy these things. Isn’t it the job of a parent to make his children happy? Maybe not.  The fact is, our job is to provide food, clothes and shelter, safety, and a sense of family togetherness.  Not all of us can buy our kid’s clothes at Dillards.   Where is it written that we have a RIGHT to happiness?  I believe Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are entitled to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Many of us never catch the happiness we chase.  Many of us are doing well to get by with some food to eat, a roof over our head and some clothes to wear.  Happiness…… not very often. What a child really needs to know is that things will be OK.

This is a good time in our history to break our addiction to “things.”  People are spending less money on non-essentials.  They are being careful with using credit cards.  More of us are trying to save a little money “for a rainy day.”  We are not using as much gasoline and oil because we are not driving our cars as much.  The word “staycation” was invented this year.  People are staying home and not taking long trips that use money and fuel.  These are all positive changes.

Jay Whitcomb can be reached at 889-9167