After yesterday’s post on school questions I’m often asked, a friend messaged me on facebook and asked, “So, what’s your opinion on paying students for good grades?” And seeing how I had planned to write about allowance today, well, it seemed to fit in well and is, apparently, something parents want to talk about.
First, allowance. I’ll make it simple: A big, fat NO on allowance in this house. Yes, I know it could teach them to handle money. Yes, I know it can teach them to tithe, save, spend, hide under their mattress, what-have-you. I would argue that I came from a generation of allowance-getters and those allowance-getters are now the vacation loan-getters. Did we learn the skills we were supposed to learn? But here’s what else allowance will teach them: to get money for simply existing. You can tie whatever strings you want to it: bed made, room picked up, etc. But it is a carrot and a stick, baiting and beating obedience from children.
What should parents do if allowance is not effective?
Rather than an allowance of money, allow your children time to earn money. Allow them to build a business, work for a neighbor, have a role in the family business, anything that allows them to utilize their creativity to earn their own money. Not only do they earn money, they learn the value of hard work. They learn the value of doing a job well. They learn to interact well with others: customers, supervisors, co-workers. They learn to track expenses, make projections, and spend money wisely.
And isn’t that what we want kids to learn about money?
I can hear some of you now, “But Annie, my kids get an allowance for cleaning the house and mowing the lawn!” I’m sorry. If your children live in your house, they have a responsibility for keeping it clean. If you hired a housekeeper or a cleaning service, yes, you would pay them. But they don’t live there now do they? If you must pay your children to clean your house or mow the lawn, then, by all means, charge them for the room they sleep in and the food they eat. Just like a hotel and a restaurant.
To answer my friend’s question about paying students for good grades? Don’t do it. Let me offer an example: You have two children. One is what I call “easy-smart”. Gets straight A’s but doesn’t work very hard. The other is “street-smart”. A’s aren’t easy to come by. In fact, they’ve never gotten one. And B’s are few and far between, but that kid works really hard. How do you pay these two children? Base it on performance? Work ethic?
Instead of offering an allowance for existing, allow children to find their passion through work. You won’t regret it and neither will they.
Day 13 Homework: Did you have an allowance?