Although it can be hard to think of a silver lining to the cloud that is the economic downturn hovering over Alberta, one sociologist and professor says parents can use the slump as a teaching opportunity.
Mount Royal University’s Caroline McDonald-Harker says it’s also a way to move away from what she calls “intensive parenting” to more teachable moments and quality time.
READ MORE: Surviving the Slump – Travel Alberta without breaking the bank
“In times of economic prosperity—which we’ve certainly seen in Calgary over the last several years—a lot of parents feel pressured to engage in intensive parenting,” Mount Royal University’s Caroline McDonald-Harker said. “This form of intensive parenting – not only being there for your children but providing everything, buying the latest technology, putting them in various activities—when the economy was doing well, it was more possible to do that.
“Now things have changed, we still have the same pressure for parents to meet those standards without the resources to do that.”
Watch below: Global’s ongoing series – Surviving the Slump
McDonald-Harker said this can actually be a good change.
“Because we become carried away and are giving so much to our children, we’re not really talking to them or teaching them about the more important things of our life: spending time with one another, packing a picnic lunch and going to a park instead of going to the newest fancy restaurants.”
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She says asking kids to help make a family budget is a great way to engage them.
“Not only is it teaching them to be part of the family and to be a responsible member, but also teaching children life skills,” she said. “We have this idea within society that children don’t have the ability to contribute to things like budgets, but they actually do when we give them the opportunity.
“It helps them be more aware of ways they can help reduce those costs and that has lifelong benefits for them when they’re older.”
Tune in to watch McDonald-Harker on Global’s Surviving the Slump segment where she’ll share more tips for parents tonight at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.