I Allow You To Live For Free

BlogHer Original Post

I’d like to know who invented the concept of allowance and why someone didn’t bother to tell my mother about it when I was growing up. I remember in History class, when I was a kid, we learned about indentured slaves, and immediately I felt as if I was one. We didn’t receive any money for doing what we were supposed to do; our parents said we were earning our ‘keep’.

We didn’t even know that kids were receiving money for doing chores until one day a kid in our neighborhood showed us the dollar bills in his wallet. We were in awe and asked him where he got the money from. When he told us his parents paid him money to do things we were doing for free, we immediately felt robbed!

Needless to say, when we told our mother about this discovery of ‘allowance’ she looked at us as if we were crazy and said, “We allow you to live here for free, that’s all the allowance you need”, end of story. After that we knew not to ask for an allowance, ever again, and we didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, our mother occasionally gave us money, but it wasn’t in regards to things we were supposed to do around the house. It was for those things that were done, above & beyond our regular ‘duties’.

Who would have thought, that years later, I would follow suit with my son. I am truly my mother’s daughter.

When my son, who is now 10, was 6 years old, he asked for an allowance. Once again, another kid mentioned that he received payment for his every day chores around the house. Before my son knew about an allowance, he freely did his chores and a thank-you was all he ever wanted to hear. After talking to his friend about the monetary rewards he received, that ‘thank-you’ wasn’t good enough. When I thought I’d never sound like my parents, I started to sound like my parents. I explained to my son that because there are certain things around the house that he’s supposed to do, that he wouldn’t receive any monetary award for it, but if I saw that he went above and beyond his normal chores, then sure, I would give him some money or some other award for doing it.

Of course, he didn’t take that well at first. He already had his mind set on getting money on a weekly basis. I even made it a point to ask him how much money he felt he deserved a week, and at 6 years old, he told me $20! He must have had a moment of insanity. I told him he’d be lucky if he got $5. Now 4 years later, my son hasn’t asked for an allowance again. Does this mean he has no money in his ‘piggy bank’? No it doesn’t, what it means is, is that he realizes that in order to receive anything from me, he has to show that he went above and beyond his normal duties around the house or at school. Sure, he’s done that on several occasions, which is why his ‘piggy bank’ is overflowing now. His next lesson will involve me teaching him how it’s ok for his mother to ask to borrow a few dollars every now and then without him charging interest.

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