Dear Dr. Bill,
My husband and I have three kids and we’re wondering if it’s appropriate to pay them for doing household chores. Growing up, I was given a weekly allowance for cleaning and vacuuming and things like that. My husband says our kids should do the chores without payment because that’s part of being a family. But then we struggle with a lack of motivation and inconsistency in getting things done.
There’s no right or wrong answer here—some parents believe in giving an allowance, others pay their kids for individual chores. Some parents don’t pay anything, but give their kids money for purchases based on their overall helpfulness and attitude.
Whatever system we use, it’s important to remember that one of our goals is to prepare our kids to live in the “real world,” the world of work, taxes, tithing, investing, etc. In the real world, nobody is going to pay us for making our bed or taking out the trash.
I believe kids should perform certain chores simply because they are part of the family. This would include things like taking care of their own room and toys, helping prepare meals, and yes, even taking out the trash.
On the other hand, I think it’s fine to pay kids for chores that demand more time and energy and go “above and beyond the call of duty.”
Whether it’s a regular responsibility or a chore that earns a paycheck, it’s important to clearly communicate our expectations, including the time frame in which the job needs to be completed and what kind of quality we expect.
Helping your kids learn to tithe, give, save and spend their money is just as important as how they earn it. A great resource on this topic is the book “Your Kids Can Master Their Money” by Ron and Judy Blue and Jeremy White.
Thanks for writing April. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.