Allowances. To give or not to give. It’s a hot topic.
To put it simply, I think there are three main camps:
- Don’t give it at all. I already feed, clothe and shelter you.
- Give it unconditionally. Here is some money and it is yours.
- Give it conditionally, based on desired actions. Here is money for completing X chores, getting Y grades, etc.
At the end of every school year, the teacher sends home a few summer learning packets. There is normally a packet for math and one for reading/language skills.
You’ve probably heard the statistics on summer learning loss — that kids lose at least one month of learning over the summer. I’m in favor of the idea of these packets, but in practice they’ve never worked for us.
We just don’t get around to it. Summer is busy and fun, we’re outdoors trying to soak up every last bit of warm weather and daylight that we can. We’re doing all of the things that we don’t get to do the rest of the year — swim, camp, picnic and hit the local amusement parks.
So this summer, I had a brilliant idea (or so I thought). I had the solution that would motivate J to want to do those worksheets.
If you’ve been around awhile, you know that my focus on National Bank of Mom is 1) teaching my son kick-ass money management skills and 2) fostering good communication between us.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that talk will only get me so far.
If I want to instill these skills in my son, I have to make sure I’m walking the talk. I have to look at my own actions and behavior and ask myself, “Is what I’m doing contradicting what I’m saying?”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
That couldn’t be more true. So much of what we learn is unspoken. We pick things up from our friends, family and society around us — what’s “normal” and expected. How life works.
To that end, ask yourself the following questions and examine your behavior:
Late last year, J took a trip with his dad to visit his cousins. When he got home, he recounted all his adventures and added, “they must be rich because they have a pool.”
A few years ago, I would have agreed with him. His cousins have a very large house, drive fancy cars and take elaborate vacations.
In it, the author makes the important point that you can’t tell how much people have based on what they buy.
Hearing it now, it makes total sense. But for 30+ years, I can say that that thought never occurred to me.
So we talked about it. I told him that you can’t tell how much people have saved. The pool doesn’t prove that they DO have a lot of money and it also doesn’t prove that they DON’T.
I brought it up again last night. I said, “Do you remember when you said that your cousins must be rich because they have a pool? Does having a pool or a fancy car or big house mean you are rich?” To which he replied no. I asked, “Does it mean that you aren’t rich?” And he also said no. (Woo! He remembered!)
Then I asked, “What does it mean?” Unfortunately, he was hard pressed to explain further.
So I explained again that there was NO WAY to tell how much money someone had saved based on their car or house or vacations. Maybe you can tell how much they spent, but really not even that completely because maybe they got the item at a discount or given to them.