The following question came during a Boston.com reader Q&A on Monday with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz:
Question: My 8-year-old son is in third grade. He's been attending an afterschool program since he was in kindergarten because both my husband and I worked full-time. My husband was laid off three weeks ago and now we have to pull my son from the program because we can no longer afford it. Any suggestions on how to ease the transition? He really enjoys the program and will miss many of his friends.
Barbara Meltz: Honesty really is the best policy: "Since dad isn't working right now, our family has less money and we need to save money wherever we can. So right now, one way we can save is by not buying the after-school program. When dad starts to work again, we can buy it again."
Kids tend not to think of something like afterschool as costing money, so it's good to remind him of that. It's also good to be clear that this is not forever; it will change, even if you don't know when, and you are optimistic that it will change.
Also stress the positive: Now you and dad have more time to spend together. Maybe there are some projects or plans you'd like to come up with. A carpentry project, an art project, cooking -- anything the two of them could do that would be concrete and involve side-by-side planning and work. Also ask him if there are friends from after school he would like to invite over.
By the way, if you haven't explained about the layoff, do that now, too. Start by asking him if he's heard anything about the economic crisis. Very likely there are other kids whose parents are experiencing similiar difficulties. Kids talk! In fact, it's possible other kids in the after\ school program have also had to drop out. Maybe the parents can get creative and get those kids together one afternoon a week in each other's home....You get where I'm going with this, I'm sure...
Do you agree with Barbara's advice? Have some of your own? Let us know in our comments section below...