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I Refuse To Pay My Children

children helpingThere is something that has bothered me ever since my children started school.  I don’t know whether this is a wide-spread practice, but our school has this thing called ‘Bob-A-Job’ week, which is a fund-raising week during the school break in May-June, when the children are supposed to be getting paid for doing various chores at home and bring thus ‘earned’ money to school. Just before the holiday, the school hands out to the children tubes of Smarties and asks them to fill the empty tubes with coins which they are to get for helping at home.

I just hate the idea.

First of all, I don’t want the school to give my children sweets – I hardly ever do it myself and I think it’s wrong for the school to try to rot my children’s teeth. Secondly, it seems to promote the view that the only time children are supposed to help out around the house is during the holidays and only when they are given something in return. A completely wrong attitude, if you ask me.

I refuse to pay my children.

I understand the school is trying to raise money for various projects, but this particular way of doing it seem very wrong to me. In a way, the school holds parents to ransom because most of the time the Smarties get eaten even before the parents get a chance to collect their children, so we owe the school a pack of Smarties per child. I feel uncomfortable taking something for nothing and I don’t want to pay the children for helping, so I end up putting enough money in the empty tube to cover the cost of the Smarties and sending it back to school after the break.

Why does this bother me so much?

I am trying to teach my children to give without expecting instant gratification in return.  I want them to develop a sense of duty stemming from being a member of a community – even if, to start with, that community is just a small family group. How can we have a cohesive, caring society if we teach young children that they should be paid for whatever they do? Doesn’t this make them grow up focusing on their individual gains and largely ignoring a possibility of contributing to a ‘greater good’?  Doesn’t this promote the young generation’s wide-spread selfishness and the ‘me, me, me’ attitude? A lot of people will say that there is nothing wrong with children learning that they have to do something useful in order to earn money, but there is a right age and a right place to do that sort of thing.  Paying a five-year-old for putting dirty dishes in a dishwasher is not the way to do it.

Nobody ever pays me for doing household chores.

I do what I do at home because it comes with me being a mum. When I was a child, I did whatever my mother asked me without ever dreaming of getting something in return.  I was a member of the family and whatever chores I did as a child, they were my contribution to the family life.  I was given a small amount of pocket money since I was twelve or thirteen, but that had nothing to do with helping out at home. I started earning my ‘proper’ money at the age of fifteen, working 2-3 weeks in the summer picking strawberries and raspberries on a plantation, for up to eight hours a day.  That gave me a very clear message that money came from putting in some serious effort and made me think very carefully about how I was going to spend it.

So what’s the upshot of it all?

My children are very lucky – they get all they need and probably more.  They tried to persuade me to pay them for dealing with the dishwasher or taking the rubbish out, but they didn’t get very far.  I told them I was happy to pay them as long as they paid me for cooking their meals and doing their laundry.  They figured out they would have to pay me by far more than I would ever pay them. I’m glad they at least got that one right.

13 thoughts on “I Refuse To Pay My Children

  1. I had the exact type of thing when I was in primary school. But now that I am in secondary school, all my friends are talking about pocket money.

  2. I personally always liked the idea of being paid as a child. I mean there has to be a boundary between it and expecting to get paid/rewarded for everything you do. I got the idea from television when I was child (my parents were foreign and didn’t know much about the concept, and I was craving to be like the ‘normal’ families on TV). But I didn’t expect to get paid for every duty preformed as a normal family member or the things I did to be a nice human being. I didn’t stick my hands out for tips like a bell boy for everything I did. I had designated jobs that were paid, just like adults do and I had ones that were soley chores. Adults get to go to work and make money and then they go home and do the unpaid work. Children don’t have that option, everything is unpaid and mommy and daddy have to pay for everything.

    I also asked for this because I liked feeling like I earned and worked for what I wanted and didn’t just ask my parents to buy it for me. I always wanted to make my own money, I even ran yard sales fully on my own before I hit double digits. I got bit by the entrepreneur bug early and I never took advantage of my parents for every single thing I assisted them with. I had my household chores and I had paid work. And pretty early on I ended up working as a bit of an assistant for my father’s business where I was doing things you would do in an office/on the job and be paid for (at a very small scale and I was young so I took on most of the none-complicated tasks..some of which I have done for $25/hour as a grown up even though they were small and mundane). Heck there have even people who made businesses from household chores like cleaning or mowing lawns that would normally be done for free, so maybe doing it for someone else might be an option.
    I really feel like I personally learned a lot and it made me not feel like I should just rely on my parents for everything, and it really helped me learn the value of things early on. That $50 toy wasn’t just something my parents got me easily but rather something I put hours into earning. Of course this can be taught none-the-less but you really feel it when you are the one putting in the time and energy for it yourself. It’s much easier to brush off when someone else is doing it for you.

    Personally, I think its good to teach both sides…perhaps you could find other chores that are out of the ‘normal’ so it seems more like a job or doing it for others, if that’s a side you’d be interested in. But I definitely don’t think the school’s approach makes much sense, and puts the parent in a tough place either way since they are not just forcing you to pay your child but also for you to basically give them candy.
    Honestly, like most things in parenting, there are both right and wrong ways of doing the same thing. If you’re doing it in a way that your child thinks everything should be rewarded..then I’d question that method.

    1. Hi Vanessa, I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments – the longest I’ve ever seen! Just to let you know, I’d like to give you a ‘proper’ and I’ll try to get back to you in the next day or so. Thank you for reading! 🙂

      1. no worries, no need to. though I’m glad you enjoyed it.
        And yea I know it’s long..it tend to write a lot.. :/ heh

        1. Hi Vanessa, you are not the only one who writes a lot 😉 and I feel really honoured that you gave my post so much of your time, thank you! You story is inspirational, I admire your determination. I think you are right when you say that there are jobs which are not part and parcel of the regular household chores and I’m thinking of fining something to give the boys the opportunity to learn what it’s like to work hard to get their money. Maybe I will get them to wash my car – I hate doing it so always pay someone to clean it for me anyway 🙂

          1. Well it’s wonderful to read your blog as well. 🙂

            Washing the car sounds like the perfect deed then, and will make a very happy mama when you don’t have to do it and don’t even have to drive to a carwash to have it done. I used to love washing the car as a kid! (Though I had to ask to be able to do it, it wasn’t one of the paid jobs, more like fun for me).

  3. Your children have been asked to raise money for their school, not for themselves, think of an unusual job that doesn’t count as one of the chores and get them to do that in exchange for fund raising, or ask them to think of a way to fund raise themselves. Great for a sense of community.
    If you don’t like the school ‘rotting the children’s teeth’ with Smarties – make an alternative suggestion, better yet join the Friends of School and show them how to do a better job. I’m sure any committee would be delighted to have you.

    1. Hi Deborah,
      Thank you – that’s a great idea about finding a project for the children to do – I will think of something next time round. NB. there are so many fund raising initiatives going on at school and so much pressure on parents to contribute, that we sometimes wonder whether this still is free education… I’m not sure how much luck we will have on the front of Smarties – we’ve tried in the past and didn’t get very far….The Smarties tubes are a perfect shape and size for putting in 20 pence coins! 😉

  4. I thought about writing this very post yesterday (well not exactly). I could not have put it better myself. I completely agree I want my children to learn that we all have to do our part otherwise nothing would get done, or it wouldn’t be fair. Again they are treated for just being my children.

    1. Thank you, Pinkoddy, I’m glad you agree. I’ve had so many discussions around this at a school gate that I’ve started wondering whether I was all wrong… 🙂

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