Growing up, my parents spent a lot of time just trying to keep their heads above water and dealing with their own shit. Not a whole lot of time was spent “parenting.” More often then not they were too busy or not even there. I am sure many of you in my generation found the same. Now fast forward twenty years and you have kids of your own and there is not a whole lot we know on the subject of parenting or even how to be a functioning adult. Stomping our feet and yelling, “just listen to me dammit!” just doesn’t seem to be working and as mature as that behaviour is, I think we can find a better way.
The list of questions we don’t have the answers to and situations we just aren’t sure how to handle seems to always be growing as our children age. So I have decided to explore the answers to some of these questions, in my journey to becoming a better parent. Welcome to my “lovely parents” series.
Hopefully, we can figure this out together.
The Miseducation of Charlotte Peters…
A huge missing piece of my education as a child had to do with money. When to spend, how to save and the value of a dollar. (And how friggen hard you had to work to earn that dollar.) We never had an allowance growing up, mostly because my Dad couldn’t stand the thought of parting with $10 of his hard-earned money when he had piles of bills to pay. But a few of my friends got money for chores or for good grades and I was always horribly jealous of all the cool beanie babies they could buy (lol, or whatever it was we were into), It never would have occurred to me that getting an allowance was actually setting those kids up for success in the future. I didn’t care, I just wanted the cash.
But now as I reflect on my childhood and look at my kids, I want to do anything I can to ensure they thrive in their adult years. It leads me to ponder the questions “Why should kids get an allowance?” and “Am I doing them a disservice by not giving them an allowance?”
Should My Kids Get an Allowance?
The subject of an allowance has parents disagreeing left, right and center. No one can really decide how to handle the situation. Money always has a way of making us a bit squeemish. Some feel no allowance is best. Others feel children should earn an allowance. Being rewarded for doing chores or getting good grades and some believe allowances should have no strings attached and the child should be allowed to spend it on whatever they want.
Even the “experts” are divided on this issue. Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions teaches that an allowance is an essential tool for instilling kids with financial responsibility. Allison Shafer (who’s publishing credits include, Honey I Wrecked the Kids, Breaking the Good Mom Myth and A’int Misbehavin -Tactics for Tantrums, Meltdowns, Bedtime Blues and Other Perfectly Normal Kid Behaviors) and John Rosemund (the author of multiple parenting books including Parenting By The Book, New Parent Power, and The Well-behaved Child) agree with her in the area of allowance. While financial expert John Ramsey weighs in on the topic of chores and allowance with a different perspective. Proposing calling allowance “commission” and teaching your child that money comes from work and if you want money, you need to work for it. And still Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood states that an allowance should not be necessary at all, children should pitch in simply because they are part of the family.
They all have there own reasoning for there opinions, all of which made some sense, weighing all of this I came up with my own personal opinion – allowances are awesome. And if handled correctly, it can help teach your child how to handle money – spend money, save money and be generous with their money. And ultimately lead to a child who has a healthy understanding of earning, spending, saving money, feels less entitlement and makes good choices. To give them the opportunity to make good choices – it should be up to your child what they are going to buy and I believe should be separate from chores, to avoid the “I’m not doing anything unless I get paid” attitude that I think will inevitably come. But as always, you are going to have to guide and educate them about how to make smart decisions.
An allowance gives them the opportunity to manage their money, learn what they can buy, what they can’t buy, what they have to save up for and what they just have to do without.
Lessons I think we can all agree are essential in surviving adulthood.
Why An Allowance Was Necessary
We decided, with our boys (3 and 5) we would give them an allowance of $10 every two weeks and they would now be responsible for there toys and their goodies. If they want a kinder egg, or gummy worms, a lego set, some play-doh or whatever might catch their eye, they would be responsible for paying for it. If it cost more then they have, they would have to save up for it or go without.
Before the allowance, when I would take them shopping, they legitimately thought they were entitled to anything in the store. They were ballers on a shopping spree every time they walked into a Walmart. If Mom said no, there was a serious meltdown or nonstop negotiating about what they could or could not buy. Needless to say, it was getting exhausting. I was spending way over budget, because I was buying things just to keep the peace and oh, my brother is getting that, well I need one too! So now my budget is blown times two.
The first time we talked about the idea of an allowance, my oldest thought it was a great idea. In his mind, $10 would buy him all the toys and chocolate his little heart desired. But then we went to Walmart and he realized that all the toys in the “good” aisle cost 4 times that much, and Mom wasn’t going to make up the difference… a scene was made. But we stuck to our guns, explained that if he wanted that toy he would have to save up his allowance.
That was not the last fit thrown in the store because of the allowance. We had been spoiling him from the time he came out of the womb and it’s hard to totally change your way of thinking and doing things. But we stuck to it and weathered each tantrum as they came, always sticking to the budget and having him pay for his stuff with his own money.
It hasn’t been too long since we implemented this system, but it is amazing the difference already. I no longer feel a sense of dread every time we need to go grocery shopping. The boys don’t walk through the aisles throwing things in the cart and pitching a fit when I tell them we have to put it back. They have come to accept that if they want something, they will have to pay for it. (I mean, ultimately I am still paying for it, but you get the idea.)
Aren’t They Too Young For An Allowance?
Money has already become an issue in our house. Yes, they are young and a lot of concepts are over there heads, but, my oldest has already started to equate buying toys with happiness and the amount of love we have for him. It literally breaks my heart and I am so ashamed to admit it. We spoiled him rotten and it has done much more damage than good. We rarely got toys as kids and as a result, when we had him we went in the complete opposite direction. Feeling a little thrill every time his little face lit up with joy when he received a brand new toy, getting him the latest and greatest because we never got it as a child and all the while turning him into a self-obsessed, entitled, materialistic little being.
Well, that needed to stop now. So, no they are not too young to learn about money and how to handle themselves with regards to things and the getting of things. That you need money to buy things and you have to work to earn that money. That you can’t always have everything that you want, because there isn’t always enough money. And they also needed to learn the difference between what they want and what they need.
When executed correctly, an allowance can teach them all those things. Managing money was something I never learned about as a child. All matters of money were carefully hidden away from us, and I’d say it did a huge amount of damage. I see allowances as a tool to help me teach my children a very important lesson that I did not learn.
And I am grateful for that.
The ‘ABC’s of Allowances’
The question of “Why should kids get an allowance?” and about a million other things have been floating through my brain since I started the course Positive Parenting Solutions by Amy McCready. It has really made me question a lot of things about my parenting style and challenged me to do better in so many ways.
She has an entire module dedicated to the “ABC’s of allowances” and she touches on things I never would never have thought of on my own, breaks down allowances by age and exactly how to set up the allowance to teach your children about money and fiscal responsibility. It dives into this topic in an easy to read, easy to watch and easy to follow format. She is kind of my new favourite person and has really opened my eyes to my potential and the potential of my kids.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. And let me know if there is anything you would like me to write about in this series! Any questions that you have, that you’d like another perspective on or that you’d like other parents to weigh in on.
Thanks for being here and thanks for being a lovely parent!
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