Talking with Children about the Economy

Author: Emily Hinshaw
June 29, 2020

The two biggest news stories over the last two months have been the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight against systemic racism through the Black Lives Matter movement. These stories are important and connected through the third most important news story: our economy. Just as face masks and protests are very visible signs that there are a lot of problems in our world today, children are also seeing signs that money and jobs are changing, too. I was a kid during the Great Recession and remember seeing changes and overhearing news and discussions about the economy. It’s another really scary thing to think about, especially if these are new ideas for children.

To get started, here are a few important words to explain to children who have questions about money, jobs, and financial security.

  • The economy is all of the ways people save and spend money. This means that every time you go to the store and buy groceries or a toy, you are part of the economy. This is also when parents go to work and make money so you can buy things.
  • A recession is when the economy does not work right. People stop buying things and making money. Sometimes they still make some money and buy some things, but it is less than normal. When people are buying less stuff, the stores and other places people work do not need as many employees so some people have to find new places to work. This sounds really scary, but it happens 5-10 years and it usually goes back to normal quickly.

Once these words, and any other words they may have heard and not understood, are explained, try to talk about changes in your family. Explain that parent(s) are working their normal jobs at home and still earning money, if that is the truth in your household. Explain that there will always be food, even if there is less take-out than before, if that is the truth in your household. Reassure what is true, but do not make a promise that cannot (likely) be kept. Children lost so many other certainties like school, vacations, summer camp, and time with friends. Telling them the truths that you can promise is reassuring and rebuilds any trust that they lost when everything else changed.

The closing verses in Matthew 6 are a beautiful example of reassurance when talking and thinking about money is hard. Even if you are not in a place to make other guarantees to your children, you can share this with them. I think it’s a helpful reminder to all of us that we will be okay, and God will provide.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[s]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


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