By Rachel Paxton
My husband and I have a 12-year-old daughter who wanted to go to a winter retreat with her church youth group last year. Price of trip - $45. I told her I'd talk to her dad about it. "HOW much is it?" he asked, "didn't she just go somewhere with the youth group?" "Yes," I replied, "and also to two friends' birthday parties. Another one is coming up this weekend." We both agreed that was a lot of money for us to spend for our daughter to have fun with her friends.
But the retreat was a church activity. So we should have forked out the money for her go, right? Well, maybe. In the past year or so our daughter had made a lot of new friends and had been asked to be involved in a lot of new social activities. Last summer was the first year we could afford to let her go to summer camp for a week. It pleased me more than anything to tell her she could go.
The more we've let our daughter go do things with her friends, the more she takes those things for granted, and expects more. She then resents doing something so menial as her household chores. So now we make sure her chores are done before she goes anywhere. "Room's not clean, laundry not started? Better hurry and do them before you go do something with your friends. Don't have time? Then I guess you're out of luck." But that was only the start. Whenever the attitude starts in she's given a warning and then privileges start being taken away, one by one.
You have to figure out what works for you. You may have to teach each child individually, because each is motivated differently. If your children cheerfully hand over their allowance every time they don't take out the garbage, you should take some other privilege away.
Resist the urge to give your children too much allowance. Don't buy them things that they can save money for themselves, like designer clothes, CD's, magazines, make up, video games, etc. Even young children can be taught to save for small things. Almost nothing makes me more sad than seeing children who take their allowances for granted and never have to work for it. Parents aren't doing their children any favors by teaching them to expect everything to be handed to them. We sacrifice, and they don't appreciate it. Why should they? They don't have anything to lose.
So did our daughter get to go on her retreat? We decided she could go if she paid $20 of the $45. She was not happy about it. She only gets $3 a week allowance, and she was saving her money for a new CD. She stewed about it for awhile, and then forked over what money she had. We worked out a payment schedule for her to come up with the rest of the money before the weekend of the retreat, and we let her do extra chores to earn a few more dollars. Are we guilty of child abuse? Our daughter thinks so, but her dad and I know better.
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