Do You Pay Your Kids for Housework and Good Grades?
I remember being full of pride and disappointment in the report card as a child. Pride that I usually earned excellent and A, which was quickly followed by annoyance that many of my classmates were going to receive real money from their parents for grades, which were often – I’ll just say – not even so well. It seemed incredibly unfair that Chrissy was going to get a dollar for her C while I got bucks for my A.
My parents never paid me (nor did they give me bribes or rewards , depending on how you look at it) for good grades. However, they gave me a regular allowance, which, as far as I remember, was not specifically related to household chores. I had to do housework – I washed a lot of dishes as a kid – but the two relationships were not related.
I think it’s fair to say that most parents want to raise their children to be hardworking, successful and financially savvy. However, there are different points of view on how to achieve this, and for the sake of interest, I am going to argue with all parties.
By paying our children to get good grades or to do housework, we teach them that getting an A or doing “work” around the house is financially rewarding, as is often the case with us adults. Of course, I’m no one pays for it to vacuum the floor in the living room, but someone pays me for me to write this post. If I stop writing, I must assume that the money will no longer appear in my checking account. I do my job, I get paid. I don’t do my job – or I do n’t do it well – and the money runs out.
Here’s what one parent told HuffPost :
Gregg Merset, a board-certified financial planner and father of six, agrees that children should earn money to do housework. He is the co-founder and CEO of BusyKid , the company behind the app of the same name that makes it easy for parents to pay for their kids’ assignments and allows kids to sort their money into manageable categories so they can save, spend, and share (or donate).
“I believe that there is always a meaningful connection between work and money because in the real world they are interconnected,” he said.
By paying our children for a job well done, we introduce and enable them to practice the concept of earning a living on a small, child-like scale. It can also open the door to regular conversations about how to balance saving, spending, and donating, which is easier to turn into a habit when they have a little money that constantly flows and goes away.
Case for non-payment
On the other hand, we do not want to bribe our children to work hard in school, or teach them that every contribution they make to the household deserves to be paid. We want children to be intrinsically motivated to succeed because of the sense of accomplishment and pride they have in their work and in being part of the family, not just the extrinsic motivation for the reward they expect in the end.
In addition, some children will work on themselves and still pull only C, while other children are going to swim in the sea of As without even opening a book. And as parenting expert Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions notes, a little setback is good for kids:
Paying our kids to get good grades can help them get those grades, but letting them miss the exam without additional incentives is an even bigger benefit.
In a competitive world, children are not always comfortable making mistakes. Or lose. Or even second place. But learning to embrace failure, learn from it, and regain ground again is a must. It is a situation in which children will hit life again and again, and allowing them to practice their resilience before they are alone gives them an edge.
In addition, if the pay is completely tied to housework, and the child one day feels that this week’s allowance is not worth the hassle of taking out the trash, they don’t get paid, but they also can’t take out the trash on their own. … There is disagreement about the real consequences of not doing his job, because the child is not going to risk his livelihood by neglecting his responsibilities.
The case of the separation of the two
Perhaps a less common choice – the option my own parents chose and which many parenting experts think deserves more consideration – is to separate the concept of housework and benefits, as Elizabeth Limi wrote for the Washington Post a few years ago:
According to T. Rowe Price’s annual survey , eighty-three percent of parents who give their children allowance believe they should earn it by doing household chores. These parents are wrong if you believe the pile of parenting books from a couple of decades that say the allowance should be for schooling, not income.
A benefit that is not tied to routine work may seem wrong at first glance: I am going to give you money on a regular basis for no reason, which does not happen when you are an adult. … But we are not talking about large sums of money here; we’re talking about $ 5 a week. It’s helpful to think of this as a tool for teaching them how to manage money in the spend-save-give balance that I mentioned earlier so that later, when they make their own money, they develop these good habits.
And, as a bonus, they hopefully still develop the intrinsic motivation that comes with hard work in school and regular contributions to the household by doing their (unpaid) household chores.
Anyway, this is what I do
I personally fall somewhere in the middle of it all. I, like my parents before me, will not pay my son for good grades. He does well in school, but I want to focus more on the effort he is making or the improvements he has made over time, rather than any specific end result. We are known to go out for dinner to celebrate an academic day (mostly because I’m always looking for little reasons to celebrate in this cold, dark world), but we try to focus on effort or improvement.
However, we do pay for the housework. My son has a specific set of things to do; if he does the job without complaint, he gets his benefits at the end of the week. However, if he complains, tries to give up his job, or I have to remind him several times, he does not receive his allowance – and he still has to do the job. (This last part is key; I only needed to secure his paycheck once or twice before he learned this lesson.)
If he’s saving up for something specific and wants to make some extra money, I offer him a dollar to vacuum the house, or 50 cents to wash the dishes out of the dishwasher. Again, nobody pays me for these things (no matter how good it is). But when I was a freelance writer, if I wanted to make more money in a month, I would take on additional assignments. At 10, this is the closest option to him, and I love that he can get a little bit of a feel for how doing more work can help you reach your financial goals.
On the other hand, when I ask him to help with something (for free), he is expected to help, because he should also be a helpful member of our family.
It’s your turn to share
As I read, ponder and write on this topic, I see value in each of these options, so I’m curious where you all left off on this issue. Do you pay / bribe / reward your children for good grades or household chores? Did the way your parents dealt with it make a difference, or how you dealt with combining household chores, grades, and benefits? Let us know in the comments.