More on Paying Children

Parents have different opinions about paying children for work in the home. Some are comfortable paying for at least some of the work their children do, while others are not. Some believe that any work done in the home is simply part of being a member of the family. Others believe it is appropriate and even beneficial to pay for some work done in the home. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Parents need to prayerfully consider what is best for their own families.

We chose to pay our children for some of the work they did, and I would like to explain what we saw as some of the advantages in our own family.

  • When we paid our children for specific jobs, they learned the biblical principle that money and provision are connected to labor. If they worked well they were rewarded. If they didn’t, they missed out. In fact, we even had them pay us for a few jobs that were done especially poorly. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). We chose to not give them an allowance. We gave freely to our children in many other ways, but we did not give them money. If they wanted money, they had to work for it.
  • It gave us training opportunities. The children learned to be good and faithful “employees” who followed directions and did even more than what was required of them. Small household jobs prepared them for other more challenging jobs – in our family business and for others outside our home.
  • They learned at a very young age that our money (and everything else we have – including our very lives) belongs to God. He blesses our work and uses it as a means of providing for us. As a result of this thinking, they learned the habit of tithing very early. It was just assumed that 10% of their earnings automatically went back to God and another portion was always set aside for benevolent purposes.
  • They learned to be thrifty. Because we were paying for some of their work, we chose to have them buy their own clothes. Fads and designer brands are far less important when you’re spending your own hard-earned money instead of your parents’ money! It’s easier to wait for a sale or shop at a thrift store when you’ve worked for the money you’re spending.
  • They had money to invest in profitable and not-so-profitable business ventures. They learned much in these little businesses – even in the ones that didn’t make very much money – lessons in diligence, organization, communication, sales, and the consequences for negligence. Using their own hard-earned money in business ventures helped them plan carefully and follow through on their plans.
  • They developed the habit of budgeting — a habit that will serve them well throughout their lives. They couldn’t spend everything! We’ll talk more about budgeting next week!

 

(Photo from Shutterstock.com )

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4 Comments

  1. Hi! Thanks for this post (and all the others too!). We want to do similar things with our kids. I have some questions for you.

    How early did you start allowing your kids to earn money? How did you determine what those tasks would be? We have very young ones – the oldest is almost 5 – and we started an allowance (not tied to chores) at one point but it didn’t stick. The goal was to use it to start teaching them about stewardship and how to be careful with things that cost money. Then they could earn extra with special work projects. In your family, how did they set aside money for tithing and giving? Did you also differentiate savings and spending money in what they earned? Thanks!

  2. My husband and I have a similar system in mind, though right now it’s not implemented with only toddlers. The idea will be though, that we don’t pay for ‘manditory’ daily chores like cleaning rooms, dishes, all the general day to day living stuff. But we have an ongoing list of ‘jobs’ that the children may CHOOSE to do. Many of them would be those weekend tasks and outdoor tasks, the once a month chores etc. Each has certain ‘hiring requirments’ just like a real job (so, obviously, a 4 year old isn’t allowed to prune the bushes, and a 16 year old isn’t going to get away with sweeping the deck, a job put there specifically for a younger child) and a pay amount, related to the skill and time required to do the job (Sweeping the deck might be worth $1, an awful lot for a 4 year old! But the 16 year old who prunes the bushes deserves more, the amount dependent on the number of bushes. If it’s two or three bushes that took an hour, maybe $5 would be appropriate, but if it’s a full saturday afternoon task in a big yard, $15 may be considered reasonable.)

    Obviously a child who decides not to take any jobs will find themselves upset when their siblings are buying things and they are not.

    Another opportunity is to pay for helpers when there’s a big decluttering task. It’s not always appropriate to have all the children helping to declutter, say, a linen closet, so you pay for one helper. And one other use is to pay for a regular task that is not a general chore. I’ve two examples of this. My little sister, at about age 7, was paid $5 a week to keep the dog poop picked up around the yard. My sister in law is 7 years older than her siblings, so when she was 14, there was also a 7yo, 5yo, 3yo and 1yo and her mother was pregnant again. They came to an arrangement where she prepared dinner 3 or 4 nights a week for the family, a huge, and time consuming, responsibility, especially to do it so often. I believe she was paid $30 a week (I think it was based on $10 an hour, here in Australia that is a standard wage for that age and her parents believed strongly that a worker was worth their pay). It was a bit of an expense to them, but they were in a position to afford it and it was invaluably helpful to a mother of little ones. As a side note, that daughter had gone on to be able to cook 5 course resteraunt style meals and is starting a cake decorating business, because she developed a keen interest in what she was doing.

    It’s not for every family, but it makes sense to us! I think it’s a great way to teach responsiblity, budgeting, and hard work.

  3. Tauna, I think we started paying our children for some work when the oldest was around 5. He was a tremendous help, and took his jobs seriously. He was doing most of our laundry for me when I was pregnant and dealing with hips that didn’t appreciate going up and down the basement stairs over and over.

    His younger siblings also had jobs that we paid for. I think we probably started by the time they were three or so. BUT, we didn’t pay very much — 25 cents for folding a load of diapers, for instance. We paid with small change at the end of the week, so that the money could be divided into different budget categories. I’ll explain that in more detail next week.

  4. My family did something like this and it certainly prevented a lot of begging for toys at the store! A cheap toy is not worth two hours of hard work!