It’s a controversial subject, right? And here I’m going to spout off a list of reasons?
Believe me, I experienced the parental angst too.
The guilt over the possibility that by tying money to things like teeth-brushing, bed-making, and undie-in-the-laundry-hamper-depositing, we would create an entitlement mindset in which our children would begin to believe they should be paid for every little thing they do.
The fear that they won’t do these things . . . at all . . . EVER . . . later in life when no one’s paying them.
Yep. I used to worry about those same things. The fact is, though, that finding a method that works and keeps this scatter-brained mama from having to constantly remind her kids to do the things that she has trouble remembering to do herself . . . is worth it.
Here are some reasons why I like our system:
1. While they’re kids, learning life-long habits/skills is their job.
Childhood isn’t just a waiting room where you hang out until it’s time to go to college. It’s a time to learn all the basics that adults sometimes think they were born knowing. (Y’know, until they have their own kids and realize that most things, from nose-blowing to shirt-buttoning, do have to be taught.) As kids get older and can handle more responsibility, treating household chores as their job not only teaches them that money comes from working, but that working isn’t really an option. At least . . . not if you want money.
2. You can teach them real-life money/savings lessons.
When your kids have opportunities to earn money on a regular basis by doing their daily chores, you always have a ready answer when a trip to the store becomes a greed-fest. If you leave it to spur-of-the-moment parenting, the chances are higher that you’ll give in, or that you’ll agree to a crazy plan of paying them twenty dollars to wash the dishes. If they’re consistently doing chores and earning their allowance, they may already have enough. If not, you can help them calculate how long they need to keep saving. That fifteen dollar toy should require as much savings for them as a new set of curtains does for you.
3. You get to be the boss, not the bank.
As my kids get older, I’m learning the true meaning of being nickled-and-dimed. While I may be willing to give them a dollar to donate to children’s cancer research so they can wear a hat for the day, I let them dig into their own stash to buy game-day stickers from the football team. I’ll buy them a book or two from the school book fair, but they can spend their own money on a calculator that smells like chocolate. If they desperately want something, I get to offer overtime instead of a low-interest loan.
Obviously no system is perfect, and ours gets tweaked on a regular basis. Ultimately, though, I’m the mama. If someone doesn’t feel like earning a check on his chore chart by putting away his shoes, he can put away his shoes and not get a check. The check is optional, the shoe-putting-away . . . is not. You can go here to see how our chore chart works and how we use it to calculate “allowance”.