Paying Children Allowances | Teaching Self-Government

Paying Children Allowances

Paying Children Allowances

At the Peck house we don't pay allowance. We also don't pay for chores to be done. Here's why and what some other people think about the issue.

We have two businesses we own and offer our children real work opportunities. They help Dad dig holes at plumbing jobs and help Mom do shipping of books etc. Quinton, age 15, is my computer and content manager as well as personal assistant from time to time.

We like our children to have the opportunity to learn to manage money, so we bring them into the family businesses. However, with age and opportunities also come responsibilities. At age 12 our children get the opportunity to pay for their own clothes. We still cover all other living expenses, but clothes are theirs, unless we give them things for birthdays or Christmas. This responsibility teaches them money management skills and prepares them for adult responsibilities a little bit at time. They also tend to not care too much about trends, because trends waste too much of their hard earned money. I like that. Trends get people focused too much on what other people think about them instead of who they really are.

As far as paying children allowance goes, we haven't done it. For some reason we haven't felt it necessary for our family. My children seem to always have bits of money from young ages which they have received as gifts or they have earned in small ways from our family businesses or their own businesses. I strongly encourage children to be entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial skills are invaluable in today's society. Entrepreneurs understand what freedom really is and what it really costs. Great life lessons and work ethic are made from a can collecting business, baby-sitting, selling lemonade, walking dogs, mowing lawns, doing data entry, or selling pet rocks. Also, the basics of economics are learned which will keep them financially free for life.

Family Work

Family work is just that at our house, “family work.” We don't believe in paying our children to live at our own house. We feel like we would be creating the wrong kind of environment; selfish. In our family we focus on being united. This means we must learn the skill of working happily together for the family and nothing else. The work we do for family is a sign of our love and respect. It is the most basic way people show love. It is called service.

Other Ideas

I don't claim to be the authority on allowance though. There are lots of great ideas out there and there are many ways money can be used in a good way and still teach family unity. Be intuitive about what is best for your family.

Here is a piece of an article written by my friend Heidi, of www.franticallysimple.com , which I thought would give you more food for thought on the matter. She has really put a lot of thought into how she is going to teach family work, and money management. And, in this article she discusses allowance too. Check it out.

Allowance, to Pay or Not to Pay

I’m firmly in the Give an Allowance Camp. Kids who don’t learn about money run the risk of becoming adults who make poor money decisions. A child who is allowed some spending money, taught how to use it, and allowed to make mistakes with it, is learning valuable lessons. Like: if I spend all my money on candy today, I’ll never be able to save enough for the game I really want.
I like allowance.  However, here is where my fellow Allowance Campers and I may disagree.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to pay children to do their chores.
Wait, before you take away my s’mores and kick me out of camp, hear me out.

Five Good Reasons Why You May Want to Reconsider Paying Children for Chores*

1. Money eclipses other good reasons for doing work and becomes the main motivator.
I mentioned this last week when we were talking about incentives for chore charts. Work can be rewarding in its own right. Children receive a sense of accomplishment, pride and increased self-confidence for a job well-done. Children also really do want to please their parents (even if they act otherwise). Putting a monetary value on chores overshadows all of those other things. They begin to work for the dollar instead of your praise.
In Freakonomics, the authors talk about a study done at several day care centers. Each center had a few parents that would habitually arrive late to pick up their children. The day cares decided to impose a monetary penalty on the parents if they were more than a few minutes late. To their surprise, the cash penalty caused the number of parents picking up late to increase. It was determined that once there was money involved it overshadowed the moral reasons for being on time. Instead there was a feeling of, this is okay because I’m only out a little bit of money.
The same can happen with chores. Contrast a child who thinks, “If I don’t clean up after my dog today, my mom might be unhappy with me” to one who thinks “If I don’t clean up after my dog today, I won’t get my dollar”. If that child decides they don’t really need a dollar today, it’s not so hard to decide not to do it.
That brings me to the next reason.
2. Paying for chores implies that the child can choose whether or not to do them.
Of course they can choose either way, right? But there is a big difference between “I have to do my chores because my parents expect each member of the family to do their part” and “I have to do my chores if I want money.” Sometimes the desire to not do the chores will be greater than the desire for money.

To read more, please visit Frantically Simple.

Heidi is a stay-at-homeschooling mama to her daughter “Newt” and partner, best friend and wife to Walt.  Nothing else she does will ever be quite as important.

She blogs at FranticallySimple.com about homeschooling, real food, parenting and her attempts to live a life of purpose - even when it takes a hilarious amount of effort.

Heidi can also be found on facebook and twitter.

**Thanks for your thoughts Heidi!