My husband and I have a 12-year-old daughter who wanted to go to
a winter retreat with her church youth group last year. Price of
trip – $45. I told her I'd talk to her dad about it. "HOW much
is it?" he asked, "didn't she just go somewhere with the youth
group?" "Yes," I replied, "and also to two friends' birthday
parties. Another one is coming up this weekend." We both agreed
that was a lot of money for us to spend for our daughter to have
fun with her friends.
But the retreat was a church activity. So we should have forked
out the money for her go, right? Well, maybe. In the past year
or so our daughter had made a lot of new friends and had been
asked to be involved in a lot of new social activities. Last
summer was the first year we could afford to let her go to summer
camp for a week. It pleased me more than anything to tell her
she could go.
The more we've let our daughter go do things with her friends,
the more she takes those things for granted, and expects more.
She then resents doing something so menial as her household
chores. So now we make sure her chores are done before she goes
anywhere. "Room's not clean, laundry not started? Better hurry
and do them before you go do something with your friends. Don't
have time? Then I guess you're out of luck." But that was only
the start. Whenever the attitude starts in she's given a warning
and then privileges start being taken away, one by one.
You have to figure out what works for you. You may have to teach
each child individually, because each is motivated differently.
If your children cheerfully hand over their allowance every time
they don't take out the garbage, you should take some other
Resist the urge to give your children too much allowance. Don't
buy them things that they can save money for themselves, like
designer clothes, CD's, magazines, make up, video games, etc.
Even young children can be taught to save for small things.
Almost nothing makes me more sad than seeing children who take
their allowances for granted and never have to work for it.
Parents aren't doing their children any favors by teaching them
to expect everything to be handed to them. We sacrifice, and
they don't appreciate it. Why should they? They don't have
anything to lose.
So did our daughter get to go on her retreat? We decided she
could go if she paid $20 of the $45. She was not happy about it.
She only gets $3 a week allowance, and she was saving her money
for a new CD. She stewed about it for awhile, and then forked
over what money she had. We worked out a payment schedule for
her to come up with the rest of the money before the weekend of
the retreat, and we let her do extra chores to earn a few more
dollars. Are we guilty of child abuse? Our daughter thinks so,
but her dad and I know better.
Copyright 2000. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of
What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick
easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home
decorating, crafts, and frugal family fun, visit Creative
Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com and Suite 101 at
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