Whether or not to give children an allowance is up to you. In many cases it is also up to the child. Some (parents and children, that is) do not want to endure a complicated process and will forego the drama. Families have many reasons for what they do. Sometimes a decision is made for no reason at all. But it helps to figure out whether you are dealing with a manipulator, negotiator or appreciator, when it comes to money.
Parents who do NOT give allowance tell me:
“Allowance bad for children. Money isn’t everything.”
“Why should I pay my child to do something they’re already supposed to do?”
“If I give money once, I will have to keep giving it.”
“We can’t afford to give an allowance.”
“I didn’t get one when I was a child, and I turned out fine.”
“None of his/her friends get one.”
The list goes on and on. What I have found is that the parents are always right, at least that’s what they think. I support any allowance decision, but respectfully note that sometimes parents change their minds when they realize how something can help the child develop self sufficiency and a new skill. Parenting is a somewhat fluid artform.
The parents that say “no thanks” to giving allowance are probably viewing money as a tool for manipulation. They do not want money to come between the parent/child relationship and will not use money to either entice or punish the child. They may have a carrot and a stick in the home, but it is not based on money.
They will not face the frustration of having a child shun what is expected (good grades, good behavior or extra chores) which would render the allowance money as useless. They realize that money manipulation is a two way street and anyone can put an end to it at any time. The child can easily ‘disobey’ and the parent doesn’t want be left holding the buck, literally.
On the other hand, parents who want to give allowance may have a fear of creating a money-driven monster. This puts parents in the situation of having to “bribe” a child for every little thing. “How much will you pay me?” is not the main topic of conversation parents want to have with the kids. It’s not the kids’ fault. She/he is just realizing that talents and behavior can be monetized. If the parents are willing to pay, the kids are willing to charge. Play it forward and you’ve got a skilled negotiator on your hands, perhaps a career negotiator.
Giving allowance to a child negotiator could be a win-win if the child already meets certain standards set by the parents – doing homework, cleaning your room, etc. But, it can also lead to a breakdown in communication and the relationship if a child does not know and consistently meet the standards for getting allowance.
Sometimes children flip the script with allowance, and lose interest in collecting money because they don’t really want to work for it. Then when the parents withhold allowance, the chores don’t get done and the child appears to be unaffected by it, because they are getting what they want from the parents anyway. Kids can be selfish, and it is normal.
Parents might view allowance for children as an entitlement issue. By giving an allowance, the child is feeling entitled to have money and may eventually ditch the chores and just show up to collect. The parents are then put in a position of enforcing the rules of doing chores for allowance, or having to put on a stiff upper lip and deny the child money until the chores are done. This creates a power struggle in the home because the child feels entitled to it.
Although it feels good to have money to give your kids, most do not want money to be a main factor in the relationship. Meaning, how much you love your child has nothing to with your income. If it does, you may lose confidence at a time when you both need it most. Parents hope their children will learn the value of a dollar at some point in their lives. Moreover they hope the children will relish the family relationships over money, whether they have it or not. Parents have it good when the child appreciates both the giver and the gift.
In figuring out how to handle money with your child, it helps to know the age and stage of your child, and whether you have a manipulator, negotiator or appreciator on your hands. Whether or not you give you child/children allowance is up to you. It can be for any reason, and it can be for no reason at all.
Candi Sparks is the author of children’s books about money “Can I Have Some Money?”. Educating Children About Money, Max Gets It!, Nacho Money and other titles. She is the Brooklyn mother of two and is on Facebook and Twitter (Candi Sparks, author).