A few days ago in Part 1 of this 2 part series, I shared HOW the Hubs and I provide allowance to our children. Much to the dismay of many, I confessed that we DO NOT dole out allowance based on the completion of weekly chores. And while to some that might appear to mirror the financial style of welfare, I can assure you that my children have daily AND weekly chores that they complete WITHOUT pay. Because as I mentioned previously, in order for a home to function at its best, EACH and EVERY member of the home has to do his/her part to keep it running. (Quick Aside: As this is not a politically charged blog, I will not render my opinion on whether welfare should or should not be mirrored...ahem!)
In addition, my children are not getting FREE money. Like most parents, we enjoy giving our children a special treat now and then for no other reason than THEY ARE OUR CHILDREN AND WE LOVE THEM. I don't buy EVERY child a new baseball glove. I buy MY SON a new baseball glove. Because he is MY SON. That being said, what is the difference if I buy my son a new glove, or if I give him the money to buy it himself in order that he can learn a few valuable life skills along the way?? As I mentioned in Part 1, once my children begin receiving allowance, we rarely ever buy them "just for fun" items anymore. Christmas, birthdays, and Easter are the few exceptions. Instead, we pass that responsibility and privilege onto them.
But enough about welfare...
So, if we DON'T connect allowance with chores, WHY then do we give allowance?!
The answer is quite simple.
We give our children allowance because we are their parents and it is our job (with Christ's help) to train them in every area of life in order that they may grow to be fully-functioning adults...and that includes being able to appropriately SPEND and SAVE money.
I know I've said this before, but a HOME is to be a training ground, a greenhouse, if you will, for soon-to-be adults to learn HOW to be adults before it really counts. My children should be able to PRACTICE all of life's necessary skills in the comfort of these four walls knowing that if they fail HERE, the consequences won't be dire and that a SECOND TRY will always be available.
The Hubs and I came from two very opposite sides of the financial spectrum when we said "I DO". Several of those honeymoon years were spent bickering unnecessarily over money. One of us was an extravagant "spender" who often went into great debt but who had an open and giving hand toward others; and the other was a responsible "saver" who held to money so tightly that he/she was showing a lack of trust in God's ability to provide and casting judgement for every dollar spent. (For this case study, I choose not to name names. Feel free to speculate!)
Although we both THOUGHT we did, neither one of us had an accurate view of spending/saving money according to Scripture.
Now, nearly twelve years later, we hope to spare our children some of the struggles that we went through. Although we know we can not be their Holy Spirit, we can point them to some real truths about money, give them some hands-on experience in saving and spending, and pray that God will continue to direct their use of His financial talents throughout their adulthood.
Although the verdict is still out as to whether this little allowance experiment will actually work (My oldest is only nine.), I am happy to report that we are already seeing some of the fruits.
We have witnessed spiritual maturity.
Not only have our children begun to form a strong conviction for tithing, they each have displayed a tender heart for God's calling in their financial lives. In the years prior to awarding allowance when our children's church ministry had announced a special offering project they were promoting, our children would eagerly tell the Hubs and I all about it and expect that we would give them each a few dollars to contribute. Of course, we would always give as we were able.
Now however, we have seen on more than one occasion, when our children feel a personal conviction to give, they are able to say "yes" to the leading of the Holy Spirit and give freely out of their OWN "abundance" because they actually have their OWN money to give. That being said, the Hubs and I are more than willing to continue contributing to the children's ministry offerings if our children ask us. But the point is, they DON'T. They choose to make a sacrifice all on their own. A sacrifice looks a lot different when it is a PERSONAL sacrifice. Although from the world's standards their offerings are small, they give ALL they have. And like the widow women in Mark 12: 41-44, a little is MUCH when a little is ALL.
We have seen character growth.
In an instant gratification-type society, my children are learning the valuable qualities of patience and perseverance. Three years ago, at the tender age of six, my daughter fell in love with the American Girl book series Kirsten. Although my momma heart desperately wanted to give my baby girl the type of doll that so many other girls around town were carrying, I knew it just wasn't in our budget. She graciously understood that we just could not afford such a purchase and determined to begin saving her own money until she could buy it herself. Now, I don't know if you have priced an American Girl doll lately, but they are each over $100!
She was well aware that a purchase of this magnitude would be a large undertaking and that she would have to forgo many other "wants" in order to meet her goal. After many months of saving all of her "savings" money and birthday money that she had received from her grandparents, as well as working tirelessly on many occasions to earn some extra money from mom and dad, she bought the beloved doll. (In her frugalness, she searched on-line for the best value and was able to find a gently used Kirsten on eBay for only $60.) And as is the case with most hard-earned items, my daughter is so grateful to have such a treasure and takes great care to keep Kirsten in good condition.
We have noticed frugality and discernment.
Walking through the toy aisles of the local Walmart can be a hotbed for discontentment for most children. They see all that they DON'T have and convince themselves that their "wants" are really "needs." They take little thought for the cost of an item or if that item can be found for a better price elsewhere. Because my five-and-up children have to purchase most of their "wants", they are learning to search for and hold out for a good deal. Before making a final purchase, my son almost always scouts Amazon and eBay to see if he can score a better price.
They are also learning to access whether a "want" is really worth the price. On one particular occasion, my daughter purchased a small stuffed dog at a store in the mall only to find a better version of the animal for half the price at another store just a few doors down. She quickly realized that she could have purchased TWO stuffed dogs with the amount of money she had spent for ONE. She began to cry and admitted to feeling kind of foolish. (Her words, not mine.) But because this was a mistake made under the umbrella of my parental love and not the verdict of a calloused adult world, I could take her in my arms and give her some loving encouragement for the next time.
When all is said and done...
The Hubs and I hope that our small efforts towards training our children in finances by the awarding of allowance will enable them to have financial freedom in their adult years and equip them to steward their talents well.
Do you give allowance? How and Why?