When my 12-year-old daughter wants some spending money, she doesn’t hold out an open palm and ask for cash.
Instead, she asks what she can do to earn some money, and when she does, I feel like I’ve done something right as a parent.
When it comes to allowance, I sometimes wonder: Are we giving our children an allowance as an altruistic act - selflessly teaching them invaluable life lessons about financial responsibility? Or are there underlying motives behind our actions? Perhaps a bit of both.
Most parents will agree that it is important to teach children about money. And while the debate surrounding how that money is received or earned is a hot topic in the world of parenting, I think there is a much bigger elephant in the room: what are we as parents gaining from the gruelling task of granting an allowance to our kids?
For the kids, an allowance can be granted on a weekly basis with no strings attached, or on the basis of a strategic work-for-pay chore-based system. Either way, I think the true value lies in the conversations that we have with our children - what we tell them about money and the importance of working hard, earning, saving, and giving to others. As long as we’re teaching them how to save and spend wisely, where the money comes from really doesn’t matter.
For the parents, there are some selfishly beneficial gains to consider as well. For example, now that my oldest is old enough to babysit, I can enjoy the benefits of an in-home caregiver, and she can enjoy the money earned from helping her parents by watching her siblings.
And those cringe-worthy chores that I can’t stand to do around the house - making lunches, vacuuming, and weeding the garden - they can all be added to a work-for-pay task list. I’d be teaching them about the correlation between hard work and earned pay in the real world, while taking some tasks that I hate off my to-do list too!
In my opinion, children should be responsible for some chores without the promise of financial gain, to be completed because they are members of the family - to learn the values of teamwork, cooperation and independence. But I also see the value in doling out some allowance too.
However we choose to do it, if we’re going to give our children an allowance, why not come up with a plan that not only teaches them the important life lessons surrounding money, but also makes our lives a little bit easier as parents? Win-win.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, Editor of WestCoast Families magazine, and a freelance writer who shares about travel, family, and food in various major print and online publications. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.