(2008 November Newsletter)

Agnes Ip

     With the on-going stock market meltdown, and the increase in unemployment and inflation, many families are facing increased financial hardship. Children cannot avoid feeling anxiety around them. How can parents guide their children in handling this economic downturn? In nurturing children to have a proper perspective about money, the parents’ attitude on money is more important than simply teaching them how to manage their spending and saving. The parents’ example in the handling of money is even more crucial during this depressed economy.

Facing the fear and anxiety together

     During the past year and a half, our friend has been laid off twice. Each time, his family faced major financial changes. The first time he was laid off, he had to sell their home. The second time he was laid off, his work permit in U.S. was just about to expire. He had to move his family of four back to Canada. His wife, who had not worked for over 10 years, had to return to the work force. His two young children have to adjust to a new living environment and to a new school. The whole family went through the sense of loss and anxiety brought on by a depressed economy.

     Our two families have been very close and the children are good friends. When their family moved, my son was feeling particularly sad. He worried for his friend’s well-being and he felt sorry that God did not open a door for them in USA. Even though our family is not wealthy, we have never let our son be worried about money. Seeing what his friend’s family had gone through, he developed an unspoken sense of weariness. He has always known the heavy financial burden that we have to bear. And with the depressed economy, he knows his father has less income. Just entering high school, he is already worrying about finances for a college fund for his sister and him.

     “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

     In 1995, we brought our two children to America, seeking better educational opportunities for them. At that time, our children were only one and two years old. During a time when we had little, we learned our lesson of faith. By faith, we trusted God would provide for us, By faith, we stepped forward into a new life. So that faith in God to provide financially became the foundation that sustained us through all our years of service to God. However, no matter how we have experienced God, our children must also go through their own personal journey of faith. As parents, we must accompany them on this journey to get through their fears and anxiety.

Persistence in giving

     During financial difficulties, how we give to others and to the ministry could also be a source of fear to our children. To them, it may seem that we have taken their money to give to someone else. And there is no money left for them when they need it. However, our children may not understand that we started out with nothing; all that my husband and I have today came from God.

     “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones” Psalm 127: 1-2

     I shared with my son how God led me through Seminary and Graduate School. And now, again by faith, I am serving in Presence Ministry, By faith, I am pursuing a doctorate degree. When I was young, my parents did not have any money for us to finish our education, but God has provided my every need. So whatever my son’s need may be, God will continue to provide.

Going through crisis together with your children

     When my son expressed his worries to me, I did not put the blame on him or negate his anxiousness. I only asked him how he would handle his fear. I listened and accepted his feeling. I assured him, “When the day comes when you are ready for college, and we do not have money, I would stop my own studies in order to allow you and your sister to have your education. Even if we need to sell our house and belongings, I would do it. I love you very much. Today, you are only in 9th grade; there are 3 more years until college. We can pray together, and ask God to provide for all our needs.”

    I let him know that in times of difficulty, the most important thing for a family is “Respect”. Whether our feelings are positive or negative, we must share them with one another, and we will go through it together. This depressed economy is the best time for a family to experience God together. Poverty cannot take away our faith in God, and it cannot lessen our responsibility to give to others in society.

     Let us be an encouragement to each other! Let us walk through this economic down time together.

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