I remember as a kid being ordered by my dad to “cut the
grass.” I naively responded, “how much will I get paid?” My dad proceeded to
laugh and then delivered a line that I heard many times growing up, “you get
three hots and a cot.” For those who don’t speak Savage-ese, this was my dad’s
way of saying, “because you eat and sleep here you WILL cut the grass.”
It is vitally important for you to train your children to be
contributing members of the family. This means taking on tasks, or chores if
you will, that help maintain the well-being of the home and family.
I often see parents who feel obligated to “pay” their kids
for routine chores around the house disguised by the name “allowance.” This is
a terrible mistake! This could cause your children to grow up with one of the
worst possible conditions, a feeling of entitlement. Making their bed, cleaning
their room, mowing the grass, carrying in the groceries, doing laundry, clearing
the table, washing dishes, windows, toilets, and more are all part of family
life. Assign these duties to your kids with no promise to pay. When they fuss, remind
them that you would gladly trade cleaning a toilet if they will pay the mortgage!
Remind them that they are a part of a family and therefore MUST contribute. If
you follow this, your children will become mature adults that understand the
importance of contributing in life and relationships. If you happen to be in a situation with
a teenager or young adult (20-something) in your home, this is even more
important. The longer they do not take on adult responsibilities, the further
they will be from actually becoming adults – no matter how old they are!
So, when do I give allowance? Great question. Ultimately you
are the parent and you have to decide how you will approach this. My objective
is to offer a little advice that will help you think through the training
component of this issue.
can teach kids discipline. We must teach kids how to handle money. It is
important to learn this lesson when the dollars are small and the risk is low.
An income gives kids/teens a chance to learn valuable lessons on giving,
saving, and spending. I recommend a simple approach of teaching your kids to direct
10% toward giving (this is the biblical principle of the tithe), 10% saving,
10% investing & 70% spending.
can teach kids diligence. There is a relationship between work and income.
It is a good idea to attach some earning potential to certain tasks. I was
privileged to have a dad who owned his own construction company and could hire
me to do clean up to earn extra money. For the average family, I recommend you
determine a set of “above and beyond” tasks (things outside of “because you live
here” tasks) that you are willing to pay for and offer your kids the job. If
they choose to do it, they learn that their work produces income. If they
choose not to do it, they learn that no work equals no pay. You can be creative
and allow your kids to come up with these tasks. I like this because they begin
to develop a vision for applying their effort, creativity, and strengths to
improve things in the home, neighborhood or side job.
can teach kids the reward system. This one may make some of you squeamish.
I think there are ways to reward kids for things that are special
accomplishments or things they would not readily do. These could be reading an
important biography, making a good grade at school, or eating healthier foods.
Please proceed with great caution here. Many parents take this to one of two
extremes. The first extreme is creating an overwhelming performance based home
where kids constantly feel like failures. The other extreme is to avoid reward
altogether and not challenge their children appropriately for their age and
stage of life.
Kids may find an extra measure of motivation to do something if they understand
the reward. Be sure it’s attainable or the reward system can crush under-performers
and leave them terribly discouraged.
I have a friend that awarded his children $1 for every A on their report card
multiplied by their current grade in school. So, a third grader with five A’s
would receive $15. This is not so different than the adult market place that
might reward a salesman for reaching his monthly quota of sales and a bonus for
going beyond the quota. Use common sense; not all children are as strong in the
same areas. If your child is not an A-student, choose another avenue to establish
and teach a healthy reward system.
I remember cleaning out houses for my dad and getting a bonus if I cleaned up
the entire job site within a certain time frame. The boss (dad) created a
reward. If I worked hard and produced something of value, I received the reward.
Other ideas might include: Reading certain
books, memorizing a set of Bible verses, staying off of junk food, or saving a
certain amount of money. Kids need to learn that extra effort is rewarded.
Final caution: Never associate love or
acceptance with the monetary reward. This is a good way to ensure you stay out
of the ditches on this issue.
There is no doubt this is something every parent will face
in his or her 7000 Day journey of parenting.
I recently ran across a wonderful
online resource to help you keep up with the tasks, allowances, and rewards you
are giving your kids. This is especially important if you have multiple kids
and need some way to keep up with this important process. Please take some time
to check out www.threejars.com. I set up
my account just last week and love the parental controls and the kid friendly
interface to keep my kids involved as well.
Please post your comments here!