Q: Do parents give their children enough? Should kids be given allowances?
A: Growing up, I always had everything I needed. I never went to bed hungry, I never had to wear dirty, worn out clothes (though my messy, adventurous self typically chose to do so anyways), my family never had to worry about getting the water or electric shut off, and I got to see both my parents every day. My family always had a well stocked pantry, 2 full freezers of beef and pork, and plenty of shelves in our basement covered in canned foods, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, and other long lasting foods. We had a cleaning lady I absolutely adored and respected, who came twice a week. But she never cleaned my bedroom for me, that was my job. We had 5 channels on our antenna TV: PBS, Channel 11, Wave 3, Channel 32, and Fox 41. We didn’t have any video games of any sort. When I slept over at my friends’ houses, I saw they had cable TV, game cubes, and play stations. When I was there I liked to play with them, but when I went home, I didn’t miss those gadgets at all. I didn’t watch SpongeBob, I didn’t have children’s shows available at all times of the day, and I didn’t mind. I had horses, a creek, a mutt dog, and barn cats. Sometimes, we go to a sit down restaurant, and we could order anything we wanted, but we had to get water as our beverage. My parents dragged me to church once or twice a week, and even though I didn’t want to get out of bed most Sunday’s, I’m glad they did now. During summer, once a year, my parents would drive 100 miles, camper in tow, to Holiday World. We’d stay a week, have a blast, and come back home. Sometimes mom would hand us each $20 in the gift shop, and we’d spend it wisely, or save it for something else. That was our vacation. We never went to Disney World, we never flew to Hawaii, we never rented a beach house in Malibu, or a cabin in the Smokies. I saw my friends do it, but I was perfectly content staying home.
I didn’t get an allowance. Sometimes it was a struggle, but my parents would make me go out to the barn and muck stalls. (I never blatantly refused though, I came from a household that believed in the occasional spanking, and that still seems fair to me.) I’d have to help around the house, I had to help clean the car (and after my dad died, my responsibilities increased). I didn’t get paid for this. I got to have a good home to live in. And that was enough. If I wanted money, I had to go to my grandparents’ farms.
I’d work there, do odd jobs, bale hay, get sun burned, callouses, and use my legs to lift. I got paid the same amount as the people they hired, and I was taught to respect these people and appreciate them. I learned the value of a dollar, and the importance of wearing long sleeved shirts (even in the heat) to avoid sun damage. I still learned money management, but it was on my own dollar, not my parents’.
I had to earn almost all the money I had, and the money that was a gift, was something I appreciated. I appreciated the money my mom and dad worked hard for, that they used to provide for us, and that they would sometimes decide to hand us to spend as we liked. I didn’t feel guilty when they handed us gift shop money, but I felt grateful, never entitled. Honestly, I think if I had been mindlessly handed a $20 every week like some of my friends, I wouldn’t appreciate the value of a dollar. I wouldn’t appreciate my parents, their hard work, or their sacrifices for myself and my sisters. I am thankful I didn’t get an allowance. I am thankful for not being handed everything I wanted on a silver platter. And most of all, I’m thankful for my mom, and I’m thankful for the time I had with my dad.
I want you stressed out, hardworking parents to realize that what you’re doing is enough. If you’re meeting their basic needs by giving them clean clothes, a clean bed, food, structure, and your love and attention, they have everything they need.
They don’t need video games, cable TV, new laptops, expensive meals to Instagram, vacations to brag about, or constant entertainment on television. It’s okay for them to be bored. Your kids may be radically different from their classmates, and that’s okay. You’ll appreciate that when you see how capable, responsible and thankful they are as adults. And they’ll appreciate you when they grow up and realize you gave them lessons their classmates never received.
Thank you parents for everything you do. Don’t worry about what the other church parents and room mothers are doing for their kids. You’re doing great. And your kids will benefit from everything you’re doing. And they will grow up to be good people, and they will love and appreciate you. Thank you, and keep your head up.
How do you feel about allowances? Is it okay to ‘spoil’ your kids with luxuries and expensive gifts? Would you change your parenting styles or childhood if given the chance? As always, thanks for reading!