One of the debates that many parents have is whether or not their children’s allowance should be tied to chores and household duties. The debate can get heated on both sides, but I’ll try to give an objective view of both options along with my own opinion.
Chores teach children that work is rewarded with money, just like in the real world. Adults aren’t just given money for doing nothing. They have to work and for that work, they are paid a certain wage. Likewise, a child’s weekly/monthly allowance should be based on whether or not they complete their assigned chores.
This could even be taken a step further by grading the kids on how well the chores are completed. (I actually saw a family on the television show Wife Swap where the kids received less money if the floors weren’t quite clean enough or if their bed sheets weren’t straight enough.)
No Way Man!
Chores are just simply an expected duty that children should perform. Children live in the house and should “earn their keep” by completing routine household duties. There are some things in life that are just done, without an expectation of monetary reward. Adults don’t get paid for washing dishes or cleaning the gutters and neither should kids.
I think that rewarding chores with cash is a bad idea. Sure, this system will probably work just fine until the child is in high school. Then, they can get a regular job at the mall or start their own business. Once that happens, I would expect the amount of chores being completed will drop down to zero, or close to it.
Because once a teenager is making “real” money (say 10-30 hours a week at minimum wage), they are no longer going to care about their $20 dollar per week allowance. This is especially true if they can work more hours by not taking the time to complete chores.
Now, parents could combat this issue by forcing their kids to do the chores, but that seems to be a bit of a contradiction. If the purpose of tying allowance to chores was to show that you have to work to receive money, then shouldn’t the child be free to decide they don’t want to work, understanding of course that then that they won’t get paid?
I think it makes much more sense for allowance to simply be given to the child, in an effort to teach them smart money management skills. Teach kids from any early age that money should be saved, given, and invested before being spent and those habits are likely to continue on well beyond high school. Chores shouldn’t even be part of the equation. The lesson that there are some things in life that you just do, without payment, is in my eyes much more powerful than learning that work is rewarded with money.