April 20, 2012

Paying Children for Work and Knowledge

Smiling Child Holding Handful of Pennies Free Creative Commons
Money is in an excellent motivator.  Duh!  If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand life.  At some point in every persons life, they come to this realization.  It usually occurs during childhood and is most likely brought on by their parents.  When kids become a certain age and start to understand the importance of money, parents begin to use it as a motivator.  Money can be used as positive or negative reinforcement.  It can be given as a reward or held back as a punishment.  Having been a kid myself, and now raising children of my own, I want to express some of my thoughts on this topic.  I recently had a certain revelation and would like to share it for the benefit of anybody who reads this.

Paying Your Kids to Work
Work - get paid.  Don’t work - don’t get paid.  That is how it works.  Pretty simple and straight forward, right?  You would think so, but unfortunately not.  Many parents give their kids an allowance.  They allow them a certain amount of money on some sort of set schedule.  Whether this allowed amount of money is tied to work or not varies for each individual situation.

I can tell you that I did not get an allowance when I was a kid and my kids will never get an allowance.  The word itself just bothers me.  Allowance.  It sounds too much like an entitlement, which to me means welfare.  By giving my kids an allowance, I would think that I would be sending them the wrong message.  I will be happy to pay them commissions or wages, based on work or performance.  But allowance?  Not happening in my household!

Paying your kids to do actual work builds character, integrity and a strong work ethic.  These are some of the most important characteristics to develop in order to be successful in life.  Teaching your children that money comes from work helps intertwine these life lessons with the ability to obtain financial gain.

Paying Your Kids for Good Grades in School
Knowledge = more money.  Ignorance = less money.  This is the part that I talked about in the opening paragraph where I said that I recently had a revelation.  Should parents pay their children for getting good grades?  What kind of message does that send?

When I was a kid, I did not get paid for school performance.  No, it was not because I didn’t get good grades.  It just wasn’t something that my parents did.  However, I did have friends and classmates whose parents paid them for good grades.  Because I did not receive the same reward, I opposed this behavior.  I thought it was ridiculous that they were getting paid to do something they were expected to do anyway.

In the real world, as it turns out, people actually do get paid for what they know.  This is known as experience and education.  People with more experience tend to get paid more than people with less experience.  People with a college education typically get paid more than those without an education.  More knowledge usually equals more money.

With that in mind, perhaps paying kids for good grades isn’t such a bad idea.  This is the revelation I had.  By paying your kids for getting good grades, you are teaching them that a gain in knowledge is tied to monetary gain.  This life lesson can and should be just important as the one that shows that money comes from hard work.  Knowledge and education lead to monetary increase.

A Blue or White Collar Conclusion
Money for work is more the blue collar way of thinking.  Perhaps this is why I chose a blue collar career as a truck driver.  The life lesson of getting paid for work was instilled in me at a young age.  I was never rewarded monetarily for gaining knowledge.  This could have had a psychological affect on me which may have played a part in my career choice.

Money for knowledge is more the white collar way of thinking.  Due to my recent revelation, I will probably pay my kids for getting good grades.  Not that long ago, I would have thought of this practice as being completely absurd.  Now, it just makes sense.

I don’t have any idea what kind of career path my children will choose.  I want to encourage them to do or be anything they want.  I wouldn’t want to psychologically hinder one path or encourage another based on behavioral characteristics that I instilled in them.  By paying my kids for both work and good grades, I hope to instill both life lessons within them.  My hope is that they will have belief in themselves and confidence to do whatever they want.  Their options will be unlimited when it comes to choosing a career.

Readers:  Were you paid, as a kid, for work or knowledge?  How do you think it has affected your life?  If you have kids, do you or will you pay them for work, knowledge, both or neither?  I would love to hear your thoughts!


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