Paying for chores and responsibilities
We have never paid our children for contributing to the household via chores and responsibilities. We have paid them for “extra” things, and we pay them for working for our publishing company and family ministry (though in the beginning we did not have the money to pay them—and they did the work in order to help our dream come true of ministering to families and helping homeschoolers.
In the book Seven Deadly Habits of External Control, William Glasser describes one of those habits as bribing, which many experts believe paying children for daily, regular household chores falls under. It is the idea that if you clean your room, make your bed, unload the dishwasher, put away your laundry, and dust the living room, you get money (an allowance, for instance), but if you do not do these things, you do not get the money. It is using money to foster some behavioral change.
Don’t even get me started on how damaging this could be to our children as adults. I once knew a child who was paid to do nearly everything—and even asked to be paid fifty cents each time he refilled the ice cube trays that HE emptied! There is a sense of entitlement that occurs when children are paid to do regular household duties—jobs that are required in order for a family to live. It is this perceived entitlement that causes that same child as an adult employee to say, “I’m not staying an extra ten minutes to finish that. I don’t get paid overtime.” It creates poor employees in the work force and lazy, irresponsible adults in general. Adults do not get paid for the upkeep of their belongings, and children shouldn’t either.
That leads us to many other questions. What about teaching children about handling money? What about allowances? What about “extra” jobs, those jobs that are above and beyond the call of duty as a family member.
We have given our children allowances through the years as we have been able to afford it. (And I wish we had done it more than we did just for the sake of teaching money management.) However, we never linked the allowance to the children’s chores. Chores are what they did as members of our family; an allowance is what they received as members of our family. One did not affect the other.
While paying children to do regular household tasks feels like bribery to me, paying children to do extra jobs, within reason, seems sensible as a way that kids can earn money. However, we must be careful that these extra jobs are truly extra—not anything that is a regular task in maintaining a household on a daily basis.
We have heard of families who handle this dilemma in this way: The regular chores are listed and marked with F for family. These are distributed among the family members and at the very least include all of the daily work in a home. Then any jobs that are available for payment are listed and marked with an X for extra. To me, these should only be tasks that you would pay someone else to do.
We didn’t use that system, but I could see it working in a limited sense. The problem I had with that approach (and the reason we didn’t utilize it) is that I consider nearly everything we do around the house (washing the car, mowing the lawn, babysitting the littles, etc.) to be F for family! Smile…
One more day of chores! Tomorrow we wrap up with another discussion of token chores in Chores vs. Responsibilities, especially as it pertains to teens.