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Should we pay our children to do chores?

August 31st, 2009 / 3 Comments

(Read previous posts in this series: Teaching Children About Money, and Teaching Children to Set Priorities for Spending.)

In the previous post, I posed the question “Should we pay our children to do chores to earn money?” Would that teach them lessons about money?

Let me say that there is no perfect right or wrong answer to this question. There are holes with any system you use.

Here’s my take on it.

If you think about the concept of the family, it is a unit where each member of the family is interdependent on one another in a love relationship. We all drink from the same carton of milk [poured into cups that is], eat from the same box of cereal, and use the same bar of soap in the shower.  We don’t keep separate accounts of what’s yours and what’s mine. I cook dinner for everyone, and my husband washes everyone’s dishes (sometimes). We share responsibilities that makes for a loving and functioning home. Basically, we operate on What’s mine is yours and what yours is mine.

Sure, there are some toys that belong to my son that his sister should not mess with. But if his sister really wants to play with my son’s toys, what do you think I would say? Probably the same as what you would say, “Share with your sister”, isn’t that right?

So in a sense, there is no clear line of ownership in a family. We share, we give, and we take. It’s what family is all about.

So, does the family pay me for doing the laundry, or my husband for taking out the trash? Do my children pay for their room and board? Who pays for the children’s clothes, tennis lessons, and vacations?

You can probably tell by now that I am not a fan of paying children to do chores at home. Mowing the lawn or taking out the trash are their contribution to the family as much cooking and cleaning are my contribution to the family.

If we pay our children to do chores, we are sending them two messages:  1) They are entitled to freely have everything we provide for them while the contributions they make has to be paid for. 2) A family is just like a business where you get paid for doing work. We just happen to all live under one roof.

I don’t think either of those messages is what we want our children to understand about what family is.

In our family where we do not give allowances, I see it as my responsibility as a parent to pay for everything for my children, both their needs and wants. Of course the wants are qualified with stipulations and limits.

What about if they want to buy something that is beyond what I am willing to pay for? In my previous post on Teaching Children About Money, I suggested some ways how kids can use money from their savings account to pay for those extras. So actually, the children do not need much discretionary money.

You might be thinking, if my kids don’t have their own money, how do they learn to budget? I talked about that in the previous post Teaching Children to Set Priorities for Spending.

Some of you may be thinking, “I can think of times when my children need some spending cash of their own. How about paying them for chores that are above and beyond the daily expectations?”

We’ll talk about that in the next post, The Value of Work.

(You might be interested in reading my series on Getting Your Kids to Do Chores. )

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  1. […] our children to do chores so they can earn extra money? I’ll talk about that in a later post Should We Pay Our Children to Do Chores? […]

  2. […] the previous post, I talked about whether we should pay our children to do chores. I gave my take on it, which is not to say that it’s the perfect way to do […]

  3. […] share a similar philosophy with Rosemond. In a previous post, I wrote “If we pay our children to do chores, we are sending them two messages: 1) They are […]


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