Should Parents Allow Allowance?
By Nicholeen Peck
[Support Group GEM] People have different views about allowance. Some parents think thatchildren have to have allowance to learn how to manage money. Others think that allowanceteaches children to be lazy and expect handouts. People often ask me how our family teaches ourchildren about money and if we do allowance.Certainly, laziness is one of the plagues of our modern times. The young people especially do notseem to be motivated to work simply for the joy of seeing a job well done. This concerns parentseverywhere.
Samuel Smiles said, “Sloth never made its mark in the world, and never will. Sloth never climbeda hill, nor overcame a difficulty that it could avoid.” Parents are worried that their children whojust want diversions and distractions from life and work are not going to find that joy that comesfrom becoming the person they were meant to be. Finding life’s purpose is the grandest moment inlife. Slothfulness doesn’t lead to purpose.
I remember a few years ago a mother came up to my then fifteen year old son and said, “You arerunning this political campaign and getting involved in things that matter. I would be happy if myson would just do something besides play video games.” She was inspired by a young man whosaw a purpose in life and worked hard. I felt bad for this mother.
So, will allowance help or hurt in a situation of laziness?I have seen parents use allowance to try to motivate their children to do their chores around thehouse, and I have see parents just give instructions to do chores as well. As I have observed thesehomes I have seen some children very motivated to do their house hold chores by the promise ofmoney and I have seen many not care about money and not do their responsibilities.
What is a parent to do when a child who is promised money for working doesn’t do the work?Obviously they don’t give them the money, but does a lazy child really care about money? Whatare they going to go do with it? And, what is the parent supposed to do about the chores? Will thechild ever do them? Will it take a power struggle to get the chores done if the money didn’t work?Are the parents going to have to manipulate the children because the child isn’t motivated?
What We Do About Money For The Children
Me and my husband are both entrepreneurs. My husband owns a plumbing business and I writebooks and teach SelfGovernment. So, we believe that freedom comes from knowing you are incharge of your destiny. It takes a lot of faith and problem solving to start businesses on your own,but the experience is priceless and empowering. We want our children to be entrepreneurialminded even if they end up working for another person or company later in life. We want them tosee themselves as valuable, able to work and contribute, problem solvers, and in control of theirfinancial future. This is how we help them achieve that mindset.First, starting at age 12 we allow them the opportunity to buy all their clothes, fun things, hairstuff, and gifts to give away.They are encouraged to think of ways to make money and are given real bank accounts andopportunities to spend their money on trips and around town.We don’t buy them too much. This keeps them dreaming and setting goals for what they want toearn enough money for.We give them ‘work for pay’ opportunities and try to help them think of other ideas of how to makebusinesses or money outside the family businesses. So, the children are all employed by TeachingSelfGovernment and A Perfect Plumber. They do apprentice work and paper work for Dad’sbusiness and they do computer work, shipping, meal planning and baking for Teaching Self-Government. They started out getting ten cents per package that they shipped and moved up togood wages for their ages.The children know how to run a website and business. They know how to add money, takepayments, keep spreadsheets, deal with customers, take business calls, create content, teach, anddo public relations work.
There was a time last year when a college aged friend of my son’s said, “They should teach how torun a booth and sell books and stuff in college. This is such a foreign skill to me. I wish I couldpresent myself to people better and help them know what they need.”Amazingly, my twelve year old can do all this, but this twenty year old man couldn’t. He lackedthe skills and the experience. We are passionate about giving our children the opportunities tolearn these vital life skills. We believe it teaches them responsibility that they wouldn’t get otherplaces and it also builds confidence. Clearly, this twenty year old friend of ours didn’t have theconfidence in marketing and selling skills, like my children did.
If you ever find a way, start a family business. The experience is so worth it. And, it keeps thework environment safe, as well as offers parents to still socially train their children while learningto work too.
This is pretty much how we have taught our children about money.
A Few Special Circumstances
We have had a few special circumstances over the years that led us to make a plan for a particularchild to earn money differently than described above.If a child, no matter the age, wants to earn more money they can always petition Mom or Dad forextra work or chore opportunities that pay. Regular household chores that are already theirresponsibilities do not pay.Our children are taught to follow instructions. When they learn that skill and parents are consistentwith consequences and teaching, the children don’t feel entitled when they work. Instead they feelduty and family unity. We like this result better than a child feeling entitled to money.There were a few special times when a child had a behavior, like a sugar addiction, when myhusband felt it was appropriate to offer a cash positive consequence for a long amount of time self-governing. These few times were very motivating and empowering for the youth who needed toconquer this addiction or another troublesome behavior. Again, this only happened a few times,but we felt it was deliberately set up, not manipulative at all and was the right kind of motivationfor the circumstance.
Even though we haven’t felt that using an allowance was right for our family, I have to say that Ihave seen some families do very well with an allowance system. I think you know your family isready for a financial system of some sort if the children can follow instructions no matter what theinstruction or when. If they are at that point, a monetary system would probably be used properlyand interpreted properly. Teach the four basics and then move on to other specific motivationalsystems. If we can help our children dream big and work hard to make money while they areyoung, these experiences will prepare them for a lifetime of happiness and joyful work.