When I was in high school, one of my little brothers, about 4 or 5 years old at the time, wanted to know what was for supper. After my mom told him, he replied with, “Can’t we go out for supper?” He must not have liked whatever mom was cooking that night. My mom responded with the answer most people use when you have four kids, and it is more hassle than it's worth to go out to eat, “No, I don’t have any money.” Well, the resolution for that was simple according to my little brother, “But we can just write a check.”
That story has stuck with me for many years, mostly because it was one of the classic lines that my little brother said, but recently it has reminded me of the importance of christian parenting and teaching our kids financial responsibility. My husband and I are expecting our first child in October, so we have had several recent conversations regarding what we want to teach our children.
Our latest conversation centered on chores and allowance:
- Should our kids be expected to help out around the house?
- Should they be given monetary compensation for helping out around the house?
- If we monetarily reward them for doing things around the house, does that help them see the correlation between earning money and hard work, or does it develop an attitude of entitlement?
The list of questions could go on and on.
Since we are expecting our first child we are by no means any authority on christian parenting advice! This led me to do some reading on the subject from one of the sources my husband and I have used for our own personal finances, Dave Ramsey. One of the articles I found to be quite helpful in answering most of the questions we were discussing was an article by Dave Ramsey’s daughter, Rachel Cruze, titled “3 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Kids’ Chores.” In this article she addresses the most popular questions she receives from parents and give three bits of parenting advice:
- Paying kids for chores is a great way to teach many life lessons about work and money. While you may not need to pay them for EVERY chore, paying for some chores is essential.
- Making chore charts is extremely helpful in figuring out how much to pay for everyday chores. For example, if you pay your child $1 to unload the dishwasher and they do that every day, does that mean you pay them $7/week to unload the dishwasher? Chore charts help parents split the reward over the number of days they completed the everyday task.
- How and when you pay your child for the work they have done depends on their age. Cruze suggests that younger children don't need an immediate reward. And for those older children, waiting for a “payday” teaches a lot about delaying gratification and the consequences of uncompleted chores.
I am sure we will not be able to avoid the, “Can we go out to eat?” requests from our children, but we can work on teaching them that you have to have money to write a check, among many other life lessons.