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How to Talk With Kids About the Government Shutdown

"Just the other day, the daughter of my friend came home after school in a panic because her teacher told the class that the United States was heading into another Great Depression," he says. "On top of that, her friends repeated stories about parts of the U.S. being sold to other countries to pay the country's bills."

To defuse those "crazy stories," Murset advises taking the following steps:

Talk it out. Have an open dialogue with your kids about what is happening and how the government shutdown might affect your family specifically. "If you are a government employee these events could have some immediate impact on your family," Murset says. "Explain to your kids why you aren't at work and how this may affects everyone in the household. Kids are smart and they can feel when things are different or stressful."

Don't sugarcoat it. Murset advises being 100% honest with your kids about finances. "This might facilitate a conversation about postponing or nixing altogether the trip that you had planned to Disneyland, but just be honest and make adjustments as a family," he adds. "You might even be surprised at how accepting your kids are of the 'new' plan that doesn't cost as much but still provides family time."

Be positive. We have all had bad days, weeks, months or even years, but paint a picture of hope for a better future, Murset says. It's the simple things, such as hard work, a daily regimen and responsible planning that can keep life fairly normal though things outside the home may be anything but. Make sure to get that point across to your kids, emphasizing that the shutdown is only temporary and things will be back to normal soon enough.

Take the long view, plan and educate. Use the shutdown to learn a good lesson about family savings. "Saving for a rainy day is nearly impossible for so many Americans at the moment, so create a family plan that involves more than just money," Murset says. "As a family, create a plan that encompasses home projects, education goals and future family outings. Your kids will appreciate planning for what you can plan for and including them in the discussion."

Kids just want honesty and reassurance that you have a plan. So it goes for the government shutdown. This can be a good opportunity to open the lines of communication in your family and to be better prepared next time if the shutdown effects you.

One thing's for sure: Given the political strife in Washington, D.C., there will be a next time.
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