Three Unique Ways to Handle the Guilt Inherent in Being a Parent

If you’re a parent, you may feel even more guilt than usual. If so, you are definitely not alone. Currently, the burden is on you to both carry on with your work and manage your child’s full-time care and education. Two full-time jobs that you’re trying to do by yourself, likely without teachers or care providers to help you.

If you are like most parents, you were probably struggling with guilt even before the virus. You simply can’t make it to every award ceremony or recital, and you might not have as much time to play with your kids or help them with their homework as you’d like. Those feelings of guilt may now be compounded by all the additional responsibilities you’ve had to take on in a short space of time.

Take a deep breath, and let me let you off the hook here for a minute. I have no doubt you are doing the best you can, and your kids see it, and know it too, even when they are being ungrateful pains in the rear.

I’ve got a few ideas about how to shift the guilt. They’re a little unconventional, but I invite you to give them a try and then message me to let me know how they went. We love hearing from you.

Let’s start with one thing that is fully within your control, can help to alleviate feelings that you are not doing enough, and that you can get handled easily, for free, right now – name legal guardians for your kids, so the people you want will take care of them, if anything happens to you.

Quality Time By Doing Nothing

While you’re probably already spending a significant amount of time with your kids, it may not be very high quality. But you may be too tired or overwhelmed to plan big activities, or the things you used to do for “quality time” may not be available.

So, what’s a parent to do?

Nothing.

Yes, you read that right, nothing. If you can take 15 minutes or so out of your day and do nothing with your child, it could be the best 15 minutes you spend with them, and with yourself, all day. Maybe you’ll even be able to stretch it to 30, 45 or 60 minutes of nothing. It’s truly one of the best gifts you can give to your kids, and the best part is you don’t have to do anything.

We hope this idea provides some relief from the guilt. You don’t have to do as much as you think. Mostly, your kids really just want to know you are there, and will give them your full attention, without screens, even if they aren’t paying attention to you.

Name Legal Guardians

If you have not already legally documented who you would want to raise your children, do it now. Legally documenting your choices for who you want to take care of your kids is a great first step to getting legal planning in place for the people you love. (Yes, I said “choices” because you want to name at least one person with two alternates.) And, doing so can provide you with a lot of relief, if you have not taken care of this yet for your kids.

So that’s one way to remove some of that mom or pop guilt you may have. And, here’s another…

Talk About It

If you’re on an emotional roller-coaster right now, your kids are probably having some similar struggles. This is an opportunity to connect with them, and a good time to show them a little vulnerability of your own. Remember how important sharing words of love and comfort can be, both to them and to you.

A friend of mine has three kids ranging from eight to fourteen, and she recently told me a story about a very special conversation with one of her children. After my friend had spent a few weeks juggling school, work responsibilities, and a million other household duties, she was feeling worn out and discouraged.

Then she took a quiet moment to just sit around and talk with her tween daughter and share some of what was going on for her, that it was hard, and how she was making it through. Out of the blue, to my friend’s surprise and gratitude, her child gave her a big hug and said, “You do so much to take care of us all the time. That must be so hard. Thank you.”

This special moment filled my friend’s heart, and it has gotten her through some tough days. And it never would have happened if she hadn’t taken a little time out to just talk with her kid, without a particular agenda.

Reach out for Support

If you have been feeling really alone and need support, reach out for help. Sometimes venting to your friends is enough, and chances are they’ll be able to relate! But if you are not getting the support you need, there are professionals who will communicate via phone and even text message. You can find local therapists and phone, video, and online therapists through Psychology Today’s directory.

Or, if family dynamics are rearing their head during these stressful times, and you want to keep your family out of court and conflict, your estate plan would go a long way towards relieving those stressors. Give us a call to see how we can help.

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This article is a service of Cris Carter Law. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.

Should You (or Your Parents) Be in the Stock Market Right Now?

Investing in Yourself

The best investment you can make, is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn. – Warren Buffett

Investing in yourself means you are investing in your future. Spending time improving your knowledge, participating in trainings or webinars, being promoted at your job, growing your assets – all of these things can only serve to protect and help you build a better future for your family. One of the most important things you can do to build a better financial future is to invest your assets.

If you or your parents have a retirement account, or any investment accounts for that matter, now is the time to make sure you understand how these accounts are invested. While you may have handed over all of these decisions to a broker in the past, you can no longer afford to have someone else manage your investments without your input or understanding of exactly what you are investing in, how you are investing, and whether your investments align with your plans for the future.

My colleague shared a story that hit home with me, and it may for you as well.

After my colleague’s grandmother died, her grandmother’s retirement and investment accounts went directly to her mom, due to the estate planning they had set up. No court process. No intervention. No conflict. Great!

But my colleague’s mom had never looked at the investments in those accounts. She left them as they were for four years until finally, her daughters convinced her to look.

When they did look, they were mortified to find that, even though the investments should have been gaining with the bull market we’ve been in for the last many years, the accounts had actually decreased over the years from $100,000 to $60,000. If my colleague and her mom had looked at these accounts and re-allocated them when grandma died, this would not have been the case.

Fast forward to now, and the daughters think to look at mom’s retirement accounts with her, only to discover that mom has a 401k with $180,000 in it and it’s lost $17,000 over the last two weeks. Mom had picked her investments with the help of a friend many, many years before, and hadn’t looked at those investments since then. My colleague’s mom had chosen to mostly invest in high-growth ETFs, which may have been the right choice when she was building her retirement fund, but definitely is not the right choice given that she retires next year and will need to start making withdrawals to replace her income.

If their mom doesn’t get her money into safer investments now, her daughters could end up needing to support her for the rest of her life.

So, why am I sharing this story with you? Because now is the time for you to get connected to your investments, even if they are in a retirement account and invested through a broker or advisor. This is simply not the time to set it aside and forget it. It’s time to know what you have, and make intentional choices about how your resources and your parent’s resources are being used.

Now is the time to truly understand what you have, and how to use it wisely.

Educate Yourself

If you or your parents have a retirement account, and you are not intimately connected to how your assets are being invested, it’s time to get more involved. Log in to your retirement account or pull your last statement and look at your investments. Many brokerages select investment funds for their clients’ portfolios based on rates of growth. They’ll offer investment options based on a few tiers of growth and risk, and very often you have no idea what your assets are actually invested in.

Labels like “slow-growth” or “conservative” or “high-growth” or “income” aren’t enough to tell you exactly where your money is invested. What you want to do now is look at your statement and find the names of the funds chosen for you, and you can go from there to do your research. Look up each of the funds on sites like Yahoo Finance to see what you are investing in, and whether you understand these companies, believe in their future growth, and want to stay invested there.

If your investments are tied to an index, like the S&P, are you willing to keep betting on its growth? If not, now may be the time to make a shift. You may have some losses right now, so you’ll have to decide if you want to lock in and limit those losses (and potentially trade some future gains even) to get more connected to what you are investing in now.

Go through this process with your parents, too. The money they have invested in the stock market is part of your overall family wealth. If it’s not there to support them through their senior years, that financial responsibility will eventually fall to you. Having these conversations with them now can be difficult, but it’s important. And if you need help with this, please let us know, and we can support you as you raise these issues with them.

If you have a broker you work with, call them now, and ask to get on a video conference. Then, have them help you review each investment, why it’s been chosen, and whether there may be better or other options for you or your parents.

Here’s the key: make sure you understand the investments you have and don’t hang up the phone until you do. If your broker is using words you don’t understand, keep asking questions until you do understand.

If you need a referral to an advisor, or want us to sit down with you to help you look at what you have, give us a call.

With everything that is happening in the world—and with the volatility of the stock market and our current reality —knowing your options is vital to preserving the life and legacy your parents have worked to build. If you need help figuring out how to best preserve these assets, we are here and ready to support you.

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This article is a service of Cris Carter Law. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.