Teaching children responsibility is a primary task for parents. The question of whether or not an allowance should be paid for completing chores requires parents to consider training in two areas simultaneously: responsibility for work and responsibility for money.
As a recent Atlantic article points out, “The vast majority of American parents who pay allowance (who themselves are a majority of American parents) tie it to the completion of work around the house.” With new apps to organize paying kids per chore, allowances have obviously advanced beyond the dollar-a-week payments of my own childhood. There’s not necessarily one right answer to the question of whether the completion of chores should be tied to monetary reward.
I know parents who have used allowance as compensation in effective ways. On the surface, at least, simply granting an allowance could lead to a sense of entitlement. And unhitching it from chores raises the question of how to incentivize kids to actually complete them. Even in light of these challenges, our family chose the minority approach: We decided not to tie allowances to chores. If you’re considering this option, I offer our experience as a snapshot of how (and why) we chose it.
We set clear expectations for what the kids were responsible for (for example, unloading the dishwasher, doing their laundry, and so on), and then we held them to the list.
Allowance Is for Extras
An allowance was something we just gave. It was given in an amount appropriate to their age, increasing as they got older, and going away once they were old enough to earn money by working outside our home (for example, babysitting or lawn-mowing).
Work for Hire
We did offer to pay for certain jobs that wouldn’t be categorized as everyday chores. If a child needed extra money, and if the job was something we would hire someone to do or something we didn’t have time to do ourselves, we would offer the chance to earn.
Contribution vs. Compensation
Pastor Tom Nelson is a man who has devoted quite a bit of time to examine the relationship between faith and work. He articulated a principle that I hadn’t been able to put into words, a framework for how the believer should think about the work he or she does.
Joy of Contributing
When our kids began to plan for their futures at college and beyond, I was encouraged to see my almost-adult children’s hopes: “I want to make a difference teaching science,” or “I want to help make green energy a viable option.”
This blog was an excerpt from Jen Wilkin’s article for the Gospel Coalition called, “Should We Pay Kids To Do Chores?” If you’d like to read the full article, you can click here!
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