Chores, Allowance And Desperate Attempts To Teach Our Children Responsibility

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When I was a kid, I had two weekly chores, wiping down the floorboards in the house and dusting the bottoms of the chairs in our dining room. My sister did the rest of the dusting and my brother vacuumed. We were given plenty of other jobs to help keep the house clean, but every week we completed our chores and we were rewarded with an allowance. It was a pretty commonplace way for parents to teach their children about earning money, saving said money and helping out around the house. Chores and allowance taught responsibility, right?

As my daughter gets closer to “helping out around the house” age, I’ve started talking to friends and co-workers about their chore set-up. I had a general interest in whether or not parents were going with the same easy routine my parents utilized a couple decades ago. What I found is an intense, intricate system of reward systems, budgeting practice and household maintenance that makes my floorboard wiping look absolutely ridiculous. A few examples of the set-ups that I’ve heard about recently.

  • One co-worker gives her children a weekly allowance, but their money isn’t just for movies and Justin Bieber dolls. Her girls must deposit one third of their income, to teach them the importance of starting a savings account. Then, they have to tithe one third of their allowance to teach them about their responsibility to their Church. I asked if she pays them triple the amount that she would without this stipulations, “Probably,” she admits. “But it’s worth it to keep them responsible.”
  • A friend of mine has a large family with plenty of young kids running around her house. Accounting for their age, they all have multiple chores to complete and weekly room inspections before they are able to collect their allowance. They too, mandate that their kids give a percentage of this allowance to their Church.
  • One friend with a teenage daughter actually lets the young girl handle the families weekly finances. With her mother’s help, this teenager balances her mom’s check book, journalizing entries into the family’s budget. She makes sure that the checks get mailed out in time and sits in while her mom delegates money to certain accounts or contemplates major purposes. My friend told me, “These kids have to know what an actual personal budget looks like. I had no clue when I moved out on my own and I paid for it for years. My daughter will not be in that position.”
  • A co-worker with young kids hasn’t set up an allowance system just yet. His toddler is too young to worry about earning money. But that hasn’t stopped him from assigning chores and giving rewards. “Our son has a responsibility chart and he earns stickers for putting away his toys and helping take care of his pets. Once he gets ten stars, he gets to pick out a toy at the store. We see it as an early way to teach him responsibility.”
All these approaches seem like fantastic ways to teach kids that hard work is required to manage your finances and to gain rewards. I think all of these children are going to be a little more responsible thanks to their parents determination to teach the value of  money and the ways you earn it. However, in each of these approaches, I saw parents who were honestly terrified to leave their children clueless about personal responsibility and money management. Maybe it’s this economic recession talking, but my personal experience has been that parents are desperate to make our children better money managers than we were. Is it possible that we’re creating a new, fiscally-sound generation?
How are you trying to teach your kids about responsibility and personal finances? Are you still utilizing chores and allowance to help your kids learn? And how early do you begin that process?