Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Part Two in the Allowance Debate: The work for money approach

Welcome back.  Just as a recap, my family did not pay us for chores, but rather provided us with an allowance.  We had chores that were not optional, and we did not get paid for these.  I covered all that and gave a quick review of motivation research in the last post.     This post is the story of my husband's family's approach and the merging of two very different attitudes towards chores and allowance. 

His Family

My husband's family paid their kids for the work they did.  And they paid well.  Their family had "help" with the house and the yard and the pool growing up so those chores weren't an issue.  They spent free time going to movies, or watching and playing sports, or traveling.  While my family spent a weekend chopping wood for the winter, his may have spent that same weekend skiing.  

Work was something that was however encouraged and rewarded with cash.   They did not get any allowance, but rather could work to earn spending money.   My mother-in-law says that my husband (the first born), often stepped up to do all the chores and was the one who always had money.  

When my husband was old enough to be employed, he got a job.  By the time he graduated high school, he was managing a movie theater.   And he saved.  He paid 1/2 for his first car, splitting the bill with his dad and then passing the car along to his brother and then sister when the time came.   When my husband wanted some extra money, he worked hard and was able to earn that.  

Now there were times when they needed extra money for gas or for the football game, their dad would help out.   I remember watching with surprise, when my husband’s (then 16 year old) sister asked his dad for money and HE JUST GAVE IT TO HER!  I was really shocked because outside of my allowance my parents would never ever give us money.  He would tease and just give her a dollar and everyone would laugh, but then he would open up the wallet.   

In my opinion, growing up my husband and his siblings were taught the value of money, whereas I was taught the value of work.  

Now I don't want to sound as though one is better than the other.  My husband and his family have an incredible work ethic as does my family.  All of our parents worked hard and were great role models of work ethic.  His siblings now work long and hard hours, and have worked very hard to get where they are professionally.  They get paid very well for what they do.  My husband has a MEE and MBA.  His brother is an MD (and married an MD who is a full-time momma now), his sister is a practicing attorney and married to an attorney as well.  They are wonderful people, whom I adore.  

But there is a difference in how my family of origin and his view work.  The very identities of the individuals in his family, are very centered on what they do professionally which is not the case in my family.   My parents were professionally very successful, but they retired almost as soon as they could, and then both started second careers doing something that they love for little or no pay.   His parents are both still working and probably will be for sometime to come.  

Two families merged into one

Given our different backgrounds, this issue could have been a big culture clash.  But really there is a benefit in either approach.  In our family we strive for balance.  We have chores that are expected that they do, and we pay them a nominal amount for their weekly work.  We are horrible about keeping track of the chores they do which makes the pay out each week difficult.   I don't know why we can't keep track of how many times so and so unloaded the dishwasher - it has to be done every day.  This is a big fail for us as parents so far.   So the kids have certain chores that they must do daily,  and then we estimate at the end of the week about how well they succeeded overall at their tasks.  We also expect that certain things be done in our house without pay (and in some regards, because we are bad about the chore-chart everything is done without pay).  We also always have jobs that the kids can complete to pick up for a little extra cash.  Our kids are paid well (and immediately) for big jobs like pulling weeds or washing the car.  

We encourage our kids to give to the church, to save, and we give them freedom to spend their money as they wish.  There are wonderful tools out there to help your kids learn proper money management - like the divided piggy bank (save, spend, donate), so look into that if you are interested.  I would love to say that is something we do, but we are still mastering the chore charts.

Where does social class come in?

People relate to money and work differently based on social class, but in this case, we can't attribute the different views of my husband's family and mine to differences in social class.  We were both raised in the same part of town, by parents who all had advanced degrees and stressed the importance of education.  Both my husband's mother and my own were full-time mothers who returned to their careers once their children were in school.  But our families did relate to money and work differently and that came out clearly in the allowance/chores differences.

What works for you?

The first step in determining how you are going to handle chores and allowance is to talk it over with your spouse and think about what is important to you.

How do you want your kid to relate to money?

How do you want your kid to think about work?

Talk with your spouse about his upbringing and whether he got an allowance or did chores for money.  Did he like it?  What would he change?

Working together as a couple you can come up with a plan to optimize the situation for your family and your children.  Good luck and God bless!

Thanks for stopping by.
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