When it comes to allowance, there are two general buckets parents fall in. Kids should earn money in exchange for doing chores around the house, or kids should not be paid for regular contributions that are expected of each family member. Here’s one perspective from a local Dad.
I fall in the latter category as I feel money and chores are two completely different things with different skills and lessons to be learned. Sure, you want your child to grow to be financially literate and “smart” with money. But is your four-year old really going to understand money supply, price equilibrium or interest rates? Not likely. Your four-year old can sweep, spray and wipe, push a light vacuum, pick up socks and put toys away.
Holding a degree in finance, I appreciate what money and currency is and teach my daughters age-appropriate money lessons. Yet as a parent, I’m not paying money for chores. Instead, I’m trying to teach them to do a good, thorough job for the sake of doing a good, thorough job.
I don’t want to teach my children to associate chores or helping our family with money or taking responsibility only because they are paid to do so. Rather, I want them to develop a sense of pride in doing a thorough job. Take responsibility and accountability head on, and, overall, be a contributing member of my family without being paid for it. Maybe it was my upbringing that leads me down this path.
What Does an Allowance Mean to You?
An allowance when I was growing up was being “allowed” to play outside, “allowed” to have a Nintendo in my room, “allowed” to eat dinner at night, “allowed” to sleep in a warm bed…. That was an allowance. So over time, I grew to do chores around the house without being prompted nor paid.
I understood that a roof over my head, food to eat, toys to play with, and a family who loves me was more than enough for me to want to do my part and clean up after myself and contribute to my family.
Some would argue that providing an allowance for chores teaches kids that their efforts reap rewards. The more stuff they do, the harder they work, the more they get paid. That sounds good in theory, but does that hold true for you in your job or career? Is your pay really commensurate with all the things you do in your role? Some of you might require a pay increase or decrease after a brief self-analysis. So if being paid for your effort is not necessarily true, why lie to your kids about it through an allowance for chores?
If you want to give your child money, there are several approaches to take. I recommend the unconditional approach: pay your child a set amount each period regardless of chores. This seems to mirror real life as an adult as effort doesn’t always equal money (we all have that colleague who doesn’t carry their weight and still gets paid the same as or more than you).
The unconditional allowance also separates family contributions from money. I don’t want my daughters growing up feeling like they should be paid in order for them to help out the family. Isn’t that the opposite of what family means? To do for those you love and who love you back, without asking for something in return? I don’t want allowance to get in the way of that.
Written by: Lyndon Conaway
Dad and Owner at Germz Be Gone