Should I Give My Child An Allowance

For several months this has been a hot topic at my house. Should I give my child an allowance? My husband and I repeatedly go back and forth on this issue. Once again we stand at a crossroad. When raising kids you take into account your own childhood and how you were raised, then throw in every book you can find on parenting and add a dash of advice from your fellow parents. Even with all those resources, you’re left most of the time making decisions on-the-fly because life doesn’t give you time to slow down and think. Plus your kids are always changing the rules of the game.

Recently I told some friends that we gave our kids allowance and they were shocked.

“What? My kids don’t get allowance. They are just chipping in and being part of the family.”

“Why give your kids an allowance, you don’t get paid!”

My children’s’ friends reactions were more of the same.

“Hey my parents don’t give me any allowance!”

“You get how much a week? No way!”

These comments got me rethinking my whole opinion on the matter. That and my kids’ NONdeveloping work ethic, but I’ll get to that. See I grew up getting an allowance for chores. It’s the beginning of a child’s work ethic. Learn to do a good job and you’ll be rewarded. This is an episode in every 80’s family sitcom. As American as apple pie. But in my parenting experience you can lead a horse to water and shove his face in it, but you can’t make him drink… and water torture is frowned upon.

My point is that I want chores to work. I want this weekly reminder of a life lesson to stick in my kids’ consciences, but it just isn’t. I try to convince myself that deep, deep down they’re learning these important life lessons, but as the years go by my hope is dwindling. I feel like every week on chore day it is more of a chore for me nagging my kids to do what was expected. I was literally going insane with all of their lying, crying, backstabbing, hiding, manipulating, stalling, blaming and laziness. It seemed my efforts got more illustrious and time consuming while my children were becoming experts in playing the system.

Over the holiday break I saw “The Descendants” and in the film George Clooney’s character had a compelling line.

“You want to give your kids enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing”.

That’s it I thought. That is what’s wrong with my children’s lack of work ethic. They want for nothing so how could they truly care about anything. We want to raise our children to become responsible adults, but in our cushy American lifestyle how can we really do that? I’ve seen the latter happen far too much and spoiled kids wind up as unprepared adults. So how can this be avoided? Simple. NO MORE HANDOUTS.

You want money to go the movies? You need to earn it. Money for the ice cream truck? Same answer.

How can your kids earn money?

  • Make a chore chart with a dollar amount next to each chore. My list is entitled “Chores for Punishment or Profit.” (because the job is going to get done either way)
  • First have your child ask permission to do the chore. (you don’t need the windows cleaned everyday)
  • Then if the chore is not done properly no payday and no second chances.

*That is where the work ethic comes in. Their future boss is going to expect them to do their job right the first time and so do you.

When we lowered the boom about no more allowance we thought the kids would revolt. But it was just the opposite. We’ve actually seen more responsibility in them. No more nagging them to do chores. They know if they want the money they have to earn it.

I’m not naive to think we will never give our kids money, but the thing is they won’t be expecting it. All this time when I was trying to teach my kids responsibility it turns out… for my kids… allowance was only perpetuating the cycle of entitlement and getting paid to do what mom does for free. So for now, if they want money they will have to take the initiative to earn it. And if this doesn’t work, I’ll track down that Growing Pains episode and make them watch it.



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One Comment on “Should I Give My Child An Allowance

  1. I literally pay my kids in pennies so I get the opposite reaction from my “peer” group. Everyone thinks my kids should get more. I’m all about chores at age appropriate levels. My kids have the opportunity to earn 7 pennies every morning for things like making their bed and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. We’re teaching my 6 year old to save. A few months ago she saved up $6 for a playstation game and she currently has $9 saved up for a $22 lego set she wants! We’re so proud of her ability to save!

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