Why I Don’t Pay My Kids To Do Chores

Chores. Every child loathes them, but every child needs them. Chores are tedious and can be labor intensive, even adults don’t want to do them. But even as adults, we need them too. 

Chores build character. Endurance. Responsibility. Independence.  Discipline. A sense of accomplishment and belonging to something more.  

Kids need these things to feel valued in a family.  I can’t tell you how many times my son has asked to help and if I tell him “I’ve got it” or “I just need to get this done real quick, so I’ll do it”, it crushes him.  Like he can’t or isn’t good enough to help with those things. 

Let’s be honest, it would be so much easier and faster for me just to do it myself. And I have often fallen into this trap.  I have too much on my plate and I’m spread too thin, so I don’t want to have to go behind a seven or five year old and redo what I can just get done now.

But I am robbing my children. 

I’m not helping them, I’m not giving them more free time.  I’m hurting them. And when I finally saw that, going behind them didn’t seem like as big of a deal anymore.  

Or better yet, just letting them do their best and let it be! Let them have that ownership!  Lightening my load became a necessity so I could teach my kids the value of being disciplined enough to get chores done; to build character in them!

I still fail at this from time to time. But it becomes more and more apparent every time I fail, that I NEED to let them help.  I need to let them be responsible for doing chores too, even if it looks worse than when they started.

I grew up in an environment where if it wasn’t done perfectly, we had to go back and redo it.  To this day, I still vacuum my own home with perfect backgammon lines in the carpet, because that’s how it had to be done. 

Don’t believe me? Ask my husband! It has become a joke in our home that it’s not vacuumed if there aren’t backgammon lines.  Growing up like this, made me never want to put my kids through that. 

And I still don’t.  I want to teach my kids to take pride in what they do and to do things well, but I don’t want to install a perfectionist attitude either.  But that’s exactly what I’m telling them when I give them the impression that I do it better.

So I held back for a long time in “making” my kids do chores. 

It took me that long to realize that doing chores in and of themselves is not bad at all and actually extremely beneficial for them at these young ages!  I just needed to teach and train them without expecting perfection.  

On top of mandatory backgammon lines, we didn’t get paid for doing chores!

Yes, you read that right! We did NOT get paid to do chores.

As a child, I never understood this and always argued the age old “So and so gets money to do chores!”  

As I grew older and had my own kids, I still didn’t know how I felt about not giving allowance for doing chores.  I was genuinely torn.

It wasn’t until I actually started understanding the benefits of making my kids do chores that I understood why we didn’t get paid for doing chores.

We are suppose to be raising our children to be contributing adults.  As an adult, we don’t get paid for taking care of our own homes.  Some would argue, but we have jobs and kids can’t have jobs.

Right! Kids don’t need jobs yet.  They really have no reason to “need” money yet.  They don’t know how to determine the difference between a true need and a want yet.  All their real needs are going to be provided by us as parents, and it’s ok for them not to have everything they want.  Young elementary kids aren’t ready to learn how to manage it yet either.  They do however, need to learn discipline and responsibility and ownership.  

The job and “needing” money will come later.  When they’re old enough to help the neighbors with their chores, then they can start getting paid.  

But they shouldn’t be getting paid for being a contributing member of the family.

As an adult, I don’t get paid for doing laundry for all five people. My payment, is that I have clean and acceptable clothes to wear in public.  (Well, sometimes, having babies meant sometimes being out with spit up all over me, but that’s totally different!)

Cleaning my house doesn’t bring in money, although I’d be rich if it did. But having a clean house means I don’t have insects and pests overtaking my home. 

I don’t want to create entitled adults who think they should be paid for every little task.  Sometimes, even in the work place, you need to do things that may not be in your job description and you wont get paid extra for it.  Sometimes you’ll have to help someone else out and wont get extra for that either.  

But we do it because we’re decent human beings and value the job we do have!  We do it because we are to be working, with or without a monetary income, like we are working for the Lord!

So let’s train and teach with the basics first and build on that!  Start with teaching and training their character and then we can worry about earning money and money management skills.  

You can’t build a foundation and a house simultaneously.  You must start with the basic foundation first! The same is true of raising our children.

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