January 1, 2013

Where's the Line?

Between rewarding your children for specific acts/behavior and outright bribery?

Missus JB and I have decided to give a trial run of a "Pay for Chores" concept.

I made up a spreadsheet with various chores -- "Clean the litter boxes" and "Dust living room" and "Vacuum the carpet" and such, and added a dollar amount and frequency to each item.  Dusting can only be done once a week, with the agreement of Missus or me.  Cat box every other day.  Dog poop in the yard every other day.  Empty dishwasher every day.  Like that.

At any rate, they now have a list of items for which they will be paid, with the caveat that half of the money earned goes into their (newly created as of yesterday) savings account, while the other half is discretionary income that they can spend if they wish.

There are some things that remain in the "This is expected just because you're a part of the family" category: Setting the dinner table, clearing your place setting after dinner, hang your coat instead of throwing on the floor, etc.

Part of me thinks that this teaches them the idea that work comes with rewards, that saving some money is better than spending all of it (*more on this below), and initiative -- the dollar given for making their beds is withheld if I have to tell them to make their bed, for example... but if they take the initiative and empty the dishwasher on their own, they will get paid.

And yet part of me wonders if I'm simply bribing them to behave properly, and why don't they just do these things because they were told to do them?  For those of you who have been parenting longer than I have (and that's pretty much anyone with a 4 month old, since I've been at this since Sept '12), how do you handle this sort of thing?  Where's the line between rewarding work and bribery?

*I also told both Elder Spawn and Spawn the Younger that Missus JB and I would match whatever they save towards a car when they turn 16... given that Elder Spawn is only 12, that gives her 4 years to save.  At a potential of $780 a year (doing all the chores listed would garner $15/week, you can do your own math), she could theoretically turn 16, get her license, and put $6,000+ in cash to a car.  


Old NFO said...

It's not a bad way to teach responsibility too... I did it with mine, and it worked.

Bobball said...

Not bad at all. Supposedly, the financial experts suggest that some allowance should come just as "allowance" (for the purpose of teaching how to handle income). My son receives $1/year of age/week, with the primary responsibilities simply participating in his school and extracurricular activities and standard "member of the family" stuff. Of this, 30% is tucked away in savings.

In addition, he has things he can do for specific pay...the dog poop thing is a main one (and shoveling in the winter), and consistent work allows him to have a GameFly account. No poopie...no videe. Has worked pretty well.

Anti Money Laundering said...

Teaching them to be responsible with a little reward is okay, but see to it that they will not be used to it and just teach them to save everything they earned.