Cristina Odone

Journalist, novelist and broadcaster

UK recession: how much should we tell our children?

February 26, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

Sometimes, children take action on their own. In my novel, The Dilemmas of
Harriet Carew
, I used many incidents from real life, including Harriet
hearing her sons reading out job ads, trying to find her employment; later,
they plan a car boot sale to sell her clothes.

Children share a keen sense of injustice, so teach them that they are not
being singled out. "Put the children's difficulties in context,"
says Alessandra Marsoni. "You are not alone in changing school. Daddy's
not alone in losing his job."

Henry Pryor, a farmer and entrepreneur, has warned his daughters to be
sensitive with their friends. ''When two girls didn't come back to school
last term, we had to explain that this is a consequence of parents feeling
the financial pressure."

Vernon Taylor, a governor at a prep school in Worcestershire, says schools
should prepare students for both financial and emotional upheaval. "Although
the majority of parents here are in farming or industry, children ask
whether the 'bad news from London' will affect their families, too," he
says.

Clare Crean, a business-woman in west London, agrees. "By the time my
daughter was eight, she had flown so much that she knew the stewardesses'
safety messages by heart. It was a privileged upbringing but I was always
aware of too much conspicuous consumption."

Like their parents, children are having to readjust their expectations, and it
is up to us to ensure that this is manageable, rather than traumatic.

'The Dilemmas of Harriet Carew' by Cristina Odone (Harper Press), based
on her Posh but Poor column for The Daily Telegraph, is available
from Telegraph Books for £6.99 + 99p pp. To order, call 0844 871
1515 or go to books.telegraph.co.uk

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