Should you Pay Kids for Chores?

Should you pay kids for chores? I don’t know what Jeremy thinks on this, so this will be a fun discussion, but this was started by Kyle, was it Ball, I believe, in the Facebook group. Thank you so much for tossing that out there. The article was awesome, and I think it’s just good to discuss these things. I’ll start off by saying, before I hear Jeremy’s thoughts, I think really just depends on meeting the needs of your family. I don’t think it’s one of those ones, there’s an inherently right, inherently wrong one, and that there’s some kind of Western evil ideal versus some ancient better ideal, but I do think there is ones that are more wise or ones that might serve in general or have less pitfalls in general with entitlement and enabling and some of these other things.

Now we’re not totally there yet because we have toddlers right now, but I would say Kinsley and our oldest is certainly at the age where household help is expected, but I guess we haven’t even thought about putting the word… I guess I’m in a weird spot because I have thoughts on it, but purposely, my thoughts are actually… Here’s another way to put it. I don’t like the dichotomy. I don’t like the dichotomy of chores for pay or chores for not pay. We weirdly have opted out of that, and just I don’t like the language. I don’t want to even talk about it. I don’t even want to consider it. I don’t even want to use the word allowance. I want nothing to do with that conversation, which might be weird, but I just think for me, I just don’t like it. I don’t like the dichotomy, so I’m just like, I want out.

We’re a family team, we contribute and we help each other. We also care about money. I want them to learn about stewarding. I want them to have a checkbook. I want them to actually save. I want them to invest. I want them to go bless people. I want them to build businesses, and I want to make sure they understand that if they don’t do their job around the house, the family team suffers. I want all those be true. I just don’t want to use any of those buzzword languages, right?


That’s how we see it. I know it’s weird, but that’s how we’ve done it. We’re just about to start this thing probably this year that I call money practice because again, I don’t like the word allowance, and so I’m just going to call it MP, and it’s like, “Hey, here’s $2 a week, go practice with it. Go blow it, go buy Snickers, go make yourself sick, go maybe buy something awesome, go maybe start a business, but I want you to do that with $2, not a hundred thousand dollars when you’re 19 and you take out a loan to go to a college for a degree you don’t even think you need.” It’s called money practice because we’re going to practice with our money. I don’t even know. We’re not going to call it chores. So I’m weird. I don’t know if that makes sense, what I’m saying with that, but that’s how we see it, but what would you say?

No, I think words are powerful, right? It says I’m entitled to it at some level. But I would say, yeah, this is always… I like how you started too. I don’t think that it’s obvious what the right answer is here. I think it’s really worth wrestling with this question. And so just to take a minute to tease out a few ways we’ve wrestled with it, in the article that Kyle shared, it says Heather Beth Johnson, a sociologist at Lehigh University studies families and wealth inequity aligns more with the Lieber school of chore compensation or lack thereof. “When we pay kids to do things that humans have always had to do as participation in communities and families, it sends them some sort of message that they are entitled to an exchange for these things, as opposed to a message that they’re part of a household team.” Which I thought that was cool that she actually used that word that we don’t see that in the wild too often. “And should contribute accordingly.”

I do think this is one area we probably will come down on, in terms of a family team’s philosophy, is that you do have to just be careful of the language you use. And if you do start to tell your children, you will get this much money for these basic typical household tasks and you won’t get the money if you don’t do it, I do think you will likely fall into this trap. And so just to give you guys a couple ideas, what we do is that we do give our kids an allowance. I, like Jeff, don’t really like that phrase, but I haven’t come up with anything better, so maybe money practice. I like that. But we give our kids a dollar for every year of age, and we tell our kids, this is not in exchange for household tasks that you’re doing. We try to separate those two things.

You don’t get docked from your allowance, if you don’t do a good job with your household tasks. We coached our kids to say, “You’re a part of this house. You must contribute.” And we want you to practice with this money. We want to see how you’re going to steward money. And so here’s some money that’s appropriate for your age, and that we actually have a settle up every Sunday where our kids come back and report what they did with the money that week. And so they have a ledger that they use, a physical one. This is how we’ve been working this out. I like the separation.

Now, I do think that it’s important to separate this conversation from using money or rewards to train your children during a season of training. That is different, I think, than what Heather Beth Johnson is talking about here.

Totally different.

She’s talking about an ongoing system, in which you are giving your kids money in exchange for daily or weekly, regular household chores. And that can really run counter to a team culture. But if you’re in a season of training and you want to create a reward so that your kids pay attention to the training, we done a lot of that. Sometimes we use money, we use movies, we use candy, we use outings. We use lots of things to try to train our kids, to pay attention to something for a season. And in that season, I’m saying for a week or two, then we pull that away once they’ve succeeded, and say, “Hey guys, you know how this works. Now we need you to really act like team members.” And so training is a little bit different, a lot different than an entitlement. Be careful of giving your kids things that will feel to them like entitlements, especially if it’s an exchange for being a normal functioning, contributing member of the team.

Totally. And one last thing I’ll say there too. And I think this is actually a little bit more when like teenage years, I remember when I was a teenager of uncles or family members, and even in the home, more like special pay for special projects, right?


Not necessarily like the dishes or taking out the trash, but it’s like, “Hey, like I need your help. I’ll pay you 50 bucks, if you come do this all day job with me in the backyard or if you do this.” And I remember actually loving that, and it did incentivize me, and it did make me work hard, and it did make me contribute, but that’s more of like an honorable work, almost more adult-like work, if that makes sense, so I think that’s a little different. There’s a lot of different kind of… It’s almost like one of those little cloud charts where there’s the center and then there’s a lot of different tangents of ways this can play off differently with training and, versus what I just said, with kind of the adult-like work, that’s not family household kind of maintaining. And so I think, yeah, make sure you’re thinking through it, through all the lenses, but definitely understanding it. What’s appropriate, and is it building up a culture of team?

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