A 10-Year-Old Demands Payment For Doing The Dishes. How Should A Parent Respond?

Question: A 10-year-old demands payment for doing the dishes. How should a parent respond? What chores are paid and what chores are part of being in a family?

Answer: Many families will respond differently to chores and allowance. But let me first start by talking about responsibility. All kids progressively have more and more responsibility. There's responsibility for self-care: so from toilet training, to dressing yourself, to getting yourself out to school, to monitoring your homework. You learn to take care of yourself. You also learn to take care of others: helping with cooking, with cleaning, with doing things in the family. So I think chores demonstrate that family is like teams or social networks where we help each other, where we work with each other and with gratitude and grace.

Now increasingly, kids also separate from the family, and as they separate, finances are important. Kids need a certain amount of money to go out to, to do things with other kids, and they need to learn about money management. If they save, they can save up, they can buy certain things. Or they can spend; they have to learn to live within their means.

My view is, is that chores and allowance should be separate. Because chores involve part of being a member of the group, and you do what you supposed to do because you want to help. Allowance allows a child to have increasing independence and flexibility. Now some families will combine them. That's perfectly fine. I think it's also good to offer extra projects for extra incentives that the kids can do for a certain amount of money. But in my view, I think it's probably wise to kind of help the child learn social consciousness and contribution on the one hand that's expected and payment which they have to manage themselves to help them learn more about independence.

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