Should children be paid for doing chores? Great question! There is a raging debate in both religious and secular circles alike about how to teach our children a good work ethic and how to manage money. I’m sure we all agree that the risk of raising entitled, lazy children is a bigger concern today than it has ever been. When it comes to work and earning money, Dave Ramsey teaches
“Our culture has made many wonderful advances to ensure the safety and well-being of children. But we may have taken this too far. Many parents today are so centred on what their children want that they have lost perspective on what their children really need. Perspective – looking at life over time – demands that you teach children to work. Teaching children to work is not child abuse. We teach them to work not for our benefit, but because it gives them both dignity in a job well done today and the tools to win in the future as adults. You should view teaching your children to work in the same way you view teaching them to bathe and brush their teeth – as a necessary skill for life” – Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money
I must admit I agree entirely with this statement, but the real tricky issue I have, is that I think there are certain jobs children ought to do simply because they live in our house and there are certain jobs they ought to be paid for, as a means of earning money and learning the work/income connection. But where is the line? How do we know which chores fall into which category?
This is definitely a matter of personal choice. We just need to make sure that whatever rules we set, we stick to them and both parents need to be in agreement. In our house we are still finding our way in this area, as the children are still quite young. But we have a rough idea of how things will work.
For us, the chores that we expect our children to do, because they live in our house include (but are not limited to)
- Making beds
- Keeping their own bedroom and playroom tidy
- Clearing their own dishes after meals
- Cleaning the outside toys and making sure they are stored properly
- Setting the table and preparing basic parts of family meals e.g.. drinks, salad, buttering bread etc
- Stripping their own bed linen (and when they are old enough, putting it back on the bed)
- Cleaning up after pets (when old enough to understand hygiene etc)
After this, there are certain chores I am willing to pay commission for, to give the children an opportunity to earn money
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Brushing and Vacuuming Floors
- Cleaning Windows
- Washing the Car
- Watering plants
- Emptying the bins
- Cutting the grass
This is not a comprehensive list, but rather the first draft that can be added to as the children get older. I think the important point is that we actually start! Even if it’s slow incremental steps, we need to teach our children that money does not just appear, it must be earned. According to Dr Madeleine Levine, psychologist and New York Times best selling author,
“Children need work experiences to develop a sense that success is a function of their own efforts.” – The Price of Privilege
As always, when it comes to parenting, more is caught that taught. A hard working parent is highly likely to produce hard working children, if the parent leads by example and practises what he preaches.
This does not mean working hard to give your child an easy life by doing everything for them. If we work hard just to spoil our children then it will have the exact opposite effect! Our children then will likely end up entitled and ungrateful, which will lead to bigger life problems down the line. But working hard to provide for life’s necessities and a little for luxuries is a great model for children to look up to. Don’t be afraid to be honest with children about how or why you purchasing certain things, or more importantly why you CANNOT purchase other things.
Parents today are almost afraid to say NO to their children. How much of an impact would it make on your child’s life if you said “No we cannot buy you this new phone, we have other things we need to spend our money on at the minute. Like new school uniforms and home heating oil for the winter. Maybe at some point in the future you can have a new phone”. How much stress and debt could be eliminated if we weren’t paying off the gifts from Christmas 3 years ago, which have since been broken, lost or forgotten? When we use loans, credit cards and finance in everyday life we normalise it, and create a level of materialism that is unsustainable for most families. By spending only the money we have earned through hard work, we teach by example without even realising it.
How do you organise chores in your house? Do you think children should earn money from their chores? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below!