Comment Rescue: ‘Why Didn’t Your Parents Love You?’ Edition
On the most recent Linky Friday post (#95 for those keeping track!), an interesting discussion arose about allowance that I wanted to explore in a bit more depth. It is something I’ve given a decent amount of thought to in the abstract and which I will need to begin thinking about more concretely as Mayo approaches non-toddlerhood. Patrick’s description of his father’s approach stood out. He described it thusly:
We didn’t get “an allowance”, Dad’s philosophy was “if you need money, ask me for it. If you want a job, tell me and I’ll give you something not on the usual chores list and we’ll negotiate a deal for it.” I hardly ever asked for money outright, it was always a trade: I’ll pick all the oranges in the orange tree for $10. I’ll tear down the patio you want taken down for $100. I’ll trim the tree for $25.
While not knowing all the in’s and out’s of Patrick’s situation, this approach appealed to me.
When it comes to allowance — and the very closely related topic of chores — I see a number of ways of thinking about the two, both in isolation and in concert with one another.
I think paying children to complete basic household chores (e.g., making their bed, tidying up their room) communicates that these are not inherent expectations. If you pay the child to do his chores, theoretically you do not pay if the chores are not completed. But this leaves the chores undone. You could force/encourage* the child to do the chores through other means, but then what is the point of tying the allowance to the completion of the tasks? I personally believe that, as contributing members of the family, children should be expected to shoulder a reasonable amount of household chores without compensation. But if we don’t pay children to do chores, how do they come by money? If we simply give it to them willy-nilly, we risk giving them a sense of entitlement that is unreasonable to hold in the long term. And if we give them no money, we deny them agency and independence unless/until they can earn money outside the home. So what to do?
I surmised that my eventual approach would be to (1) offer a reasonable allowance independent of any chores/work done; (2) have a required set of chores independent of any allowance; (3) offer additional opportunities to earn money via non-required chores**. Basically, something approaching what Patrick’s father did. And Patrick strikes me as a rather bang-up fellow so obviously I’m correct!
Well, not obviously. But this approach seems to marry the best of a variety approaches. Children are taught to be contributing members of the family. Children are given a certain degree of financial independence and agency that they are entitled to. Children can begin to explore the connection between work and earning. Win-win-win!
But I’m curious… what are your thoughts on allowance, chores, and the like? What approach did your parents utilize with you? What approach do you utilize with your children? What does my approach ignore? Does it create problems I’m overlooking? What is the purpose of allowance and/or chores?
* There is a very fine line between forcing and encouraging children that is worthy of discussion but which I won’t veer off into at this current time. Should you want to tackle this in the comments, have at it. If you’d like a follow up post on this topic, make it known in the comments and I’ll put it on the to-do list.
** There would also be discussion about jobs out-of-the-home when appropriate and lessons about long-term savings and the like. But those are somewhat different than the in-home chore/allowance arrangement.
Photo by gringer on Open Clip Art Library. (Created by ‘gringer’ on Open Clip Art Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons