The issue of allowance came up recently when I was out with friends. I got to share the story of how our family approaches the subject and some of my friends have asked me to write about it. Sooo...here it it. :-)
HOW TO PAY YOUR CHILD ALLOWANCE....OR NOT!
The issue of allowance wasn’t one that Brian or I put much thought into at first. We were never paid to do household chores so it didn’t occur to us to pay our children. In time we realized that there are two schools of thought about paying a child allowance.
School of thought number one is that the child deserves to be compensated for chores done around the house. School of thought number two is that the child should do chores because they are part of a family unit that is part of a system of give and take, therefore no money should be given.
Both are valid opinions and have been used by many families for many years.
In our home School of Thought Number 3 evolved, out of trial and error and error and trial and then going broke!
We began our parenting journey under school of thought number one. Our eldest son would graciously do chores, get a pat on the head and that was the extent of it. This went along well enough until his little 7-year-old cousin told our precious, well-adjusted 8-year-old son that he gets $10 per week for allowance. Kazz asked his cousin what he does to get that money. “Take a bag of garbage to the shed.” Came the reply. “That’s It?!” Kazz exclaimed. Yes, that indeed was it. Kazz was devastated. He came to Brian and I that day asking why he didn't get an allowance.
Brian and I listened, talked it over and realized that he had always paid heed to us and gave us no trouble what so ever. If ever there were a well-behaved obedient child he was it. He did chores easily and of course we thought our child would definitely respect the fact that we were paying him to do household work. Brian and I decided that giving Kazz an allowance couldn't hurt.
So began our $10.00 per week saga.
Time went on and Kazz got older. Our family grew to include 5 growing boys. As those boys got older they too, wanted compensation for work. The bills got tighter, days longer and for some odd reason chores were not being done as often or as well. It didn’t take long until we realized that the money we paid each Saturday was compensation for nothing!
When I asked the kids to do a chore I witnessed eye rolling and endured the all too common, 'I can’t believe you are asking me to do this' "SIGH"
At times they would even moan aloud asking “Why?!”
This type of rudeness crept into our lives so slowly that we didn’t even give it a second thought most of the time. We were allowing our children to treat us with disrespect. It pains me to think of it today. I could never imagine my parents allowing me to treat them the way our children had treated Brian and I. If I would have rolled my eyes at my father or gave any attitude to him about doing chores... Goodness! I can’t imagine he would have ever put up with such behavior! In our home this type of “dust” swept in slowly and as we looked the other way more came from the younger kids until it was a daily occurrence.
Some Saturdays we would forget to pay the boys. They didn’t even notice because their wallets were bulging with more money than they could spend. As time went by they relaxed their idea of what doing a chore meant and we relaxed our idea of how often allowance should be paid out, as well as how they should respond to us when asked to do a chore. That was status quo for a while. Then “IT” happened.
STATUS QUO DESOLVED!
It was the end of a very long day for Brian and me. I was up to my ears in laundry, the kitchen was a disaster, and the basement play area was a muddled mess with a walking path carved from one door to the other. Brian had just finished mowing the lawn while the kids were playing with their friends.
It was at THAT moment Kazz decided to come to us wanting “his” money. He was upset that we had forgotten to pay him. He then said, “You owe me $50! You haven’t paid me 5 times.” I couldn't’t believe my ears. I thought, ‘Fifty-dollars could pay a maid to clean our first floor!’ Then came Brisan, our second son. He too wanted thirty dollars! Just as I was about to blow my top our middle child came over to say that he was owed forty dollars! It was in that mental moment of money-wanting-hand-held-out–give-it-to-me-right-now chaos that I cracked!!
As Brian watched in amazement, I turned around and walked right out the door. Now lest you think I had decided to actually leave my family or something absurd, let me assure you that my leaving was only to cool down before I said or did something they would regret immediately and I would regret at a later date.
I climbed into our family van to take a little ride around town. I muttered to myself trying to make sense of the situation that my husband and I had created. We had allowed our boys to develop the attitude that we had vowed would never happen. Oh My Gosh! We had helped to create spoiled bratty-ness attitudes in our own children! In that moment of awakening, I had an epiphany! This was a God moment.
I went to an ATM machine and withdrew the $120 that we had been accused of withholding. This Was WAR! I drove back home with a plan! This plan would, in one foul swoop, save us from family temper tantrums and financial ruin. It would also teach the children the value of a dollar and address the issue of rudeness that we had allowed to creep into our lives!
I walked into our home. To my surprise, the kids and Brian were still in the living room, Kazz our 12year-old son (at the time), with a look of entitlement on his face and Brise, our 8-year-old son, with a look of hope on his. Vinze, our 6-year-old son, was looking around puzzled and Brian just looked tired.
I announced that I have their money. They smiled. I then announced that there will be new rules in this house regarding allowance and they better listen well because they go into effect immediately! Then…there was silence.
What came next was a mixture of awe and interest. As the boys listened they became fascinated with how much money they “would” make. As Brian listened he just became fascinated. He, well…he, being a father of boys, knew THIS was going to be a little more interesting than our sons could immediately fathom.
There will be a list of chores posted on our refrigerator each week.
You will be paid for weekly chores on Saturday.
IF you do a chore WITHOUT being asked to do it…
THEN you may put your initials in that “chore & day box.”
ONLY AFTER rule #2 has been completed.
IF you complete a chore
THEN you must tell ME after you have done it.
IF you did not do it well
THEN you must re-do it before you put your initials in the box.
IF I ASK you to do a chore
THEN you do NOT get paid for it.
IF I ask you to do a chore and you roll your eyes, sigh deeply or ask ”Why” or give me ANY trouble at all…
THEN…YOU OWE ME THE MONEY FOR THAT CHORE AND YOU STILL HAVE TO DO THAT CHORE
IF rule number 3 takes effect and you have to pay me for a chore
THEN the full worth of that chore must be put, on the spot, into the
“Parent Night Out Jar”.
Definition: “Parent Night Out Jar” or PNO Jar,
is a jar used to store “Rule #3” money.
(The jar should be placed in full view, in the home, for all to see.)
On the last Saturday of the month, Brian and I use the PNO Jar money to go out to dinner, coffee, a movie or buy whatever they feel like buying with that money.
I get a monthly date night out with my husband AND the kids don’t whine or roll their eyes when I ask them to do a chore. If they do, I just point to the jar and they’re out of the room without another word to get the money for the jar. Life….Is Good!
Our sons looked over the rules. They saw money flash before their eyes. Kazz added all the chores up and realized that if he were to do all the chores on the list, everyday, he could make over $100.00 per week! I told him that if he did every chore on that list, every week, I would gladly pay him that amount.
Truth be told, we’ve never had to pay over $40 all totaled between all the boys. Most weeks we owe them nothing!
(If anyone should want our household chore chart/spreadsheet just e-mail me or put a comment in the box and I'll be more than happy to send it to you. You should be able to just delete our chores and add yours.)