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Parenting with Debt: Coping and Finding a Way Out

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That moment when you realize you’re not in Kansas and Toto is not your cute little Cairn Terrier. Instead, you have a baby Lab who won’t potty train, two querulous teenagers, and about ten pounds of stress to boot. This is the land of parenting. And, and times, it can feel like Oz. It gets worse when debt’s involved.

In a study by the Pew Research Center of 1,807 parents, more than half of them admitted they cared about how people perceived their parenting skills. 93% worry about the way their spouses view their parenting, while 56% of singles desire an attaboy from the other parent. Financial circumstances contributed to each parent’s admission.

Parenting doesn’t come without its challenges. It’s not easy raising children and managing a household. But there’s hope. When it comes to balancing parenting and debt, there are ways to cope and solutions to fixing your finances.

Balancing Parenting and Debt

There’s no exact formula to parenting. Every day you wear multiple hats—chef, chauffeur, educator, bookkeeper, friend, and parent. Some days you get it right and others you feel like you just can’t win for losing. You’re not alone.

Every household goes through its share of drama—family issues and financial stress. Here are a few ways to manage parenting and some ideas on getting your family out of debt

Managing You and the Kids

The major point in parenting is managing yourself and your children. It’s hard to find the perfect balance. But grasping the major keys opens the door to more peaceful days in your home.

1. Setting Boundaries

The older your children get the greater their desire for independence. As much as you want them to remain babies, they can't sit in your lap forever. They’re probably past the PBS phase as well. This is where you learn to give them a few inches of space but with boundaries.

Your teen will challenge you. It’s their way of testing their level of authority before they dole it out on the rest of the world. They want to know just how much power they have. Unfortunately, parents are the usual victims. They’ll talk back, break rules, disobey you, and provoke you.

Don’t react. That’s how you hand over power. When a teen finds out how to press a button, they’ll try to do it more than once. Take a moment to examine where the behavior is coming from and establish an approach. Sit them down for a talk and discuss the ground rules of respect. Teens listen when they know they’ve been heard.

A difficult teen is hard to handle. Boundaries help you keep your teen in check and manage the stress in your home.

2. Keep Them at a Safe Distance

Allow your teen some space to grow but don’t let go of the reins. They are not adults. They are kids growing into adolescence. Spend time with your teen on the regular.

If you’re a homeschooling parent, take them out of the house to a spot where other teens like to hang out—arcades, the mall, or the movies. Allow them to invite a friend over for a game night and give them a little space. Let them mingle but always keep a close eye on them.

3. Take Time for Yourself

You’re a person, not a machine. You don’t have to be superwoman every day. Take a break. Take some time for you. The house won’t shut down because you took a few moments to catch your breath.

Self-care is vital to surviving parenting. Parents are the captain of the ship. If the captains go down the ship goes down as well. Maintain your physical and mental health. A cup of coffee in between chores just won’t do it. Let go of the guilt of leaving the house for a few hours and go somewhere to recharge your batteries—the gym, the spa, the park, or a bookstore.

If you’re in financial straits, take an hour’s walk in the neighborhood. Sit on a bench and have a few moments of gratitude to regain your sanity. Take care of you.

Getting Your Family Out of Debt

Debt is a divider. Marriages fail and families go under due to financial struggles. Don’t be a part of the statistic. Get help.

1. Consumer Credit Counseling

Get counseling. Whether you’re a single parent or a married couple, enlisting the help of a financial educator saves you months of stress.

Most couples shy away from talking about finances because differences in methods always lead to arguments. Plus, often one parent or both have menial knowledge of credit and budgeting, which is how so many families end up in debt.

Consumer counseling is an organization that helps consumers settle their debt by teaching them the basics of spending and budgeting. Some also mediate with your creditors to stop fees and finance charges until you pay off the debt you owe. Most of them are non-profit and don’t require fees to counsel.

A short list of some common credit counselors:

  • National Debt Relief
  • CCC – Consumer Credit Counseling
  • Accredited Debt Relief

Be sure to do a quick background check on each company for comments and reviews.

Consolidate Your Debt

Every now and then parents make bad financial decisions. That’s the truth of it. Too many credit cards, paying bills late, and over-spending on things happens in every home.

And sometimes, life happens. You lose your job loss and things fall apart financially. Either way, you need help digging a way out. If you know how finances work but certain circumstances have thrown your household finances out of whack, consider consolidating your families debt.

Here are few ways to consolidate:

  • Balance Transfers – If your family has more than one credit card, consider transferring all of the debt to one card. Choose the card with the lowest interest rate. This way you’ll have one monthly payment instead of multiples payments with different rates. Close the other accounts.
  • Personal Loans – Don’t panic. You don’t have to have perfect credit to get a personal loan. Most personal loan companies use your job as your credit and help you rebuild your credit in the process. You can borrow up to a maximum amount and have the payments drawn directly from your checking account.
  • Borrow from Family and Friends – If you have people in your life that care about the health of your family, go to them and ask for help. It feels shameful, but friends and family who care won’t make you wallow in it.

Find a solution to your family's debt and stick with it.

From Here on Out

Balancing parenting and debt comes with its challenging. Parents take on so many different things every day—difficult teens, running the house, and trying to occupy the family’s finances.

Learn your teen, get a grip on your household, and take time for yourself. Most importantly, find a balance, even if you have to enlist the help of others.

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