Why Our Kids Don’t Get an Allowance

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My husband and I expect our kids to help out around the house, but we don’t pay them an allowance for doing so. That may sound mean to some people, but to us it sounds like a way to teach our kids some responsibility.
As members of our household, we don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect our kids to contribute to the household. They create more dirty dishes and ¬¬laundry than anyone else, so why shouldn’t they help wash them? And why shouldn’t they be expected to keep their rooms clean? We want our kids to take responsibility for their own messes, so we don’t pay them to clean up after themselves, nor do we clean up after them.

That being said, our kids don’t have assigned chores. We don’t want them to feel that their responsibilities are limited to a tightly defined list of tasks, so, we give them things to do based on what currently needs to be done. If it’s something they’ve never done before, we take the time to show them how to do it; then, we leave them to it. This gives them an opportunity to practice important life skills and builds confidence. Our kids know how to treat laundry stains, how to cook and how to mow the lawn. They wouldn’t have these skills (and many others), if they did the same chores week in and week out.

And it’s definitely a work in progress, but we’re also trying to teach our kids to take initiative when they see something that needs to be done. We don’t just want them to do a chore because Mom nagged them about it or because they think there’s cash in it for them. We want them to do it because they want to do their share or because they see an opportunity to lighten someone else’s load. If you make chores about money, kids may only be willing to help out when they’re being paid.

That doesn’t mean we don’t give our kids opportunities to make money. We think it’s important for them to earn their own money and to learn how to spend it wisely. We just don’t pay them for things that they won’t be paid for as adults. No one is going to pay them to clean their homes when they’re grown, so we don’t pay them for that now. Someone would, however, pay them to do graphic design work, so we’re happy to pay them to tackle a design project for the website. This allows them to develop marketable skills and teaches them how to satisfy a boss or client. It also gives them a chance to try on different jobs, and hopefully, that’ll help them discover something they’re passionate about.

We want them to work hard for their living, but we also want them to understand that not all jobs come with a paycheck. Being a good spouse, a good parent or even just a good person has nothing to do with money and everything to do with pulling you weight and doing what’s right.

So, How Do Our Kids Feel About Their Lack of Allowance?

Here are some of the things they said when I asked them:

“Kids should learn that they get money for doing real jobs.”

“It’s taught us to be creative with how we make our money.”

“If you work hard to earn your money, you won’t just go out and spend it like crazy.”

“You’re going to have to take care of your own house at some point, and you’re not going to get paid for it.”

This was an interesting conversation for me because I really wasn’t sure what they would say. There are plenty of things that we don’t see eye to eye on – just ask them what they think of our no cellphone rule – but apparently they’re okay with not getting an allowance. And isn’t it interesting that their responses echoed the values we’ve been trying to teach them?

So, I guess if they ever pay to lie on a couch and blame us for everything that’s wrong in their lives, their lack of allowance won’t come up. But their lack of a cellphone? It’ll definitely come up.

Do You Give Your Kids an Allowance?

There are so many ways to teach kids about money and hard work, I’m curious to hear how you do it.

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  1. I agree. We have never given our two kids allowances. As well we expect them to help out around the house with either lists and options (walk the dog or do the dishes.) They have acquired summer jobs or year round paper route and doing odd jobs for family and neighbors. We ask their assistance with cooking, laundry, renovations around the house and car maintenance so they can have the skills and experience to do these things on their own some day. One summer my daughter was home and kept busy with daily lists that she was rewarded at the end. They understand we provide them with what they absolutely need and what we want them to have. They buy their own things with their own money no matter how practical or frivolous. They plan for the future with enjoyments along the way.

  2. We gave our daughters an allowance, and as adults, they are very hard workers. A friend of mine paid her children to do household chores, and as adults, they too are hard workers. Your daughters sound as though they are hard workers. In the end, I am not sure allowances matter that much one way or another. Instead, I think it is the overall philosophy of the parents

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