By Ashley Allgood
I remember getting $5 a week as an allowance while growing up. I didn’t do chores, but I was given $5 anyway. In our house, we also used to get money for “good” grades on report cards. Despite not doing well in school, I always got the money for my school work.
As my kids have grown, I’ve read about the “importance” of an allowance, had friends who doled out $20 a week or more to their kids, and heard my own kids ask for an allowance. But my husband and I have stood firm in our decision to not give out any allowances. If you’re wondering whether you should give your kids an allowance, read our story below and consider the benefits and drawbacks on each side.
Why We Said “No” to Allowances
I started early teaching my kids to be happy helpers around the home. Sure, that may sound goody-goody, and some people may say that no kid is happy to do chores, but we’ve found it is possible to instill the value of helping around the home in our children.
The thing is, chores are a part of life. Chores are not going to go away and Mommy is not going to always be there to pay Joey each week to make his bed or pick up his toys. I see a chore as a habit kids need to learn early. It’s character development, not work.
As a stay-at-home mom, my kids see me doing daily chores. They see me fold laundry, clean up toys, and put away dishes. So when my kids were very little, even as young as eight months, I’d include them in housework. I’d say, “Do you want to help Mommy fold clothes?” with them next to me and put a shirt in their tiny lap. “This is Daddy’s nice clean shirt. Help Mommy fold it.”
Of course, an 8-month-old or even 18-month-old will not fold a shirt or hang it up. But, my little one would sit there and try to copy my motions, sometimes throwing the shirt, laughing, and crawling to it just to throw it again. I’d happily say, “Thank you so much for helping Mommy!”
By the time my kids were toddlers or preschoolers they were very eager to help out. I’d make cleaning their room a little game as in Mary Poppins. We would sing songs and just have fun. As preschoolers, I’d expect them to help with the cleaning process and help with other things like emptying trash. I would tell my children, “Thank you so much for emptying the trash. Daddy won’t have to do it when he comes home from work.” By saying this, I was teaching my kids that we need their help in the home.
How These Expectations Benefit Our Household
I remember when my son was about 4-years-old. There was a huge pile of clean laundry on my bed. I think he heard me sigh and say I couldn’t rest just yet because I had laundry to put away. I went to do something else for a bit and returned to see him sorting and attempting to fold the laundry. He groaned when I walked into the room because he had wanted to surprise me. He had wanted me to be able to rest.
Learning chores early in life helps your children see that they are a part of the family and family helps family. I should not have to pay my 15-year-old to empty the dishwasher. She is a member of this family and she eats off these plates. It is her job to help clean them or put them away. She knows this and understands this. She also knows that if she does her assigned job each day she is helping us all which makes her feel needed and important.
I’ve seen these teachings expand to the world outside our front door. There are a number of times we’ve had to search for our kids after church. We often find them helping in some way. My son may be helping stack chairs or one of my daughters may be helping the youth leader clean up the youth room. My children see a need and help without being asked. This is the joy of helping others. They expect nothing in return. Personally, when I was a kid I wouldn’t help if nothing was in it for me. I’d think, “Why would I want to stack chairs? It’s Sunday. I want to get home and watch TV.”
I know many people feel an allowance teaches kids to budget money or start a savings account. Our kids do earn money working outside the home by babysitting, dog grooming, or clearing trees out of grandpa’s lake. They value the money they earn and see what it takes to earn it. They have never said they felt cheated in not earning an allowance. I have a feeling that if we offered them “allowance” money now, they would turn it down because they know money can be tight for us and if they want electricity, we have to pay the bills.
In the end, each family is different and you have to do what is best for your family. But I hope you enjoyed reading about why we don’t give our kids an allowance.
Ashley Allgood is a Christian wife married 20 years to Michael. They have three children ages 18, 15, and 13. They live in Georgia where they homeschool. Ashley is a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. Ashley has always loved writing and storytelling. Read her blog, Thoughts Of Faith at http://mythoughtsoffaith.blogspot.com.