Paying Kids for Chores?


Post written by fatherhood columnist Dean Mehrkens of homeSTRONG.

Do you or do you not pay your kids to do chores around the house? It’s an argument as old as time itself. I’m sure Ma and Pa Caveman had the conversation about little Grug-grug getting an extra antelope leg for sweeping the cave. And the debate rages still.
I know there are pros and cons to both sides. My wife and I have tried paying, not paying, bribing, punishing, and everything else the “experts” recommend. Here’s where we’ve landed after years of trying both systems.

That’s not how the world works.

Our basic philosophy is to try to make their education not only robust, but to reflect the real world as much as possible. In the real world, we don’t get paid to run our household, so neither do my kids.

Money isn’t the only driving force.

The tasks that keep a home running smoothly don’t product an income when done in our own home. We don’t do them for money. We do them because they bring peace to our homes. Don’t believe me? Let the dishes, laundry, and sweeping/vacuuming go for five days and see how little peace you have. It’s astonishing!

Excel, then monetize.

Household skills taken to another person’s home can produce income if they are responsible, do a great job, and find people who value those services.
So while we don’t pay for household chores, we make our kids aware our house is their training/proving ground. They get to make all the mistakes of using a smelly washcloth to wipe down the kitchen table or mopping themselves into a corner (which is hilarious to see, by the way) “on our dime”.

Paying them made them lazy.

When we were using the pay-per-chore system, my three year old refused to do anything unless there was some kind of compensation. It makes it difficult to correct or discipline a kid for doing what I’d taught him to do: expect payment for everything.

Payment doesn’t reflect value.

I encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in my kids, but just like in the adult world, they have to learn that not every important job is paid what it’s worth (teachers are a great example).
In fact, I’d say it’s a fine lesson for them to learn that the most important roles they will ever fill – those of husband, wife, daddy, and momma – have no monetary value at all. That’s not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.
Has paying your kids worked better in your home than it has in mine, or has it backfired on you, too?

(photo source)