I have been sort of absent around here lately. Our social calendar has been incredibly busy, and it doesn't show signs of letting up. Hopefully I'll have something thoughtful to say soon. It won't be this weekend, as I will be busy hosting family and making a space shuttle cake for Calvin's fourth birthday. In the meantime, I could use some parenting advice from those of you further down the road.
One of our favorite family outings is to go to the nearby bookstore and browse books. Well, three of us browse while Hobbes plays at the train table. On our last trip there, Calvin picked up a Tin Tin comic. (His dad may have influenced him in that decision.) As we were preparing to leave, he asked if we could buy it. My husband decided this was a great time to start teaching Calvin about earning money. They looked at the price of the book, and he explained to Calvin that he could earn the money to buy it by doing work around the house. Calvin was ecstatic.
Really, this has worked out great for me. We pay him a quarter or fifty cents for jobs like unloading the dishwasher, sweeping or dusting a room, putting away his laundry, or cleaning the sliding glass door. He even earned $1.50 for helping me to weed our front flower beds. (They haven't been touched since last Fall, but that is another post for another time.) He continues to be enthusiastic about the work, and Hobbes is catching the spirit, too. I have never seen them clean up so eagerly or so quickly. It seems great.
But, I have reservations. First of all, helping around the house is part of being in a family. I want my kids to learn that we all work together to make the home run smoothly. I am still asking them to do some things just to help me, with no reward, and they seem willing enough. I worry that paying them for doing work will make them feel entitled to it and unwilling to do chores just because they need to be done.
Second, I wonder if paying by the job is the best method. It seems that it makes more sense in the long run to have an allowance that each child receives for contributing to the work of the household each week. Just as Daddy and I have some share of the family income to spend because we contribute to the running of the house, so the children get a share.
Finally, I don't want to create greedy little consumerist monsters for children. I think this is teaching them the value of money, but I am not sure. We have emphasized that one-tenth of what they earn will be given to the church, just as Mommy and Daddy do. And we regularly donate some of their toys and books to local charities. I hope that our overall example of generosity toward those in need is enough to create a balance in their little minds between getting and giving.
So what do you do? Do your children receive an allowance or money for certain jobs? Do they get money at all? Do you allow them to spend it on whatever they want or are there guidelines? What about things like birthday money? How do you encourage wise use of money, even among little ones? I'm looking forward to your answers.