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Should We Link Children's Allowances To Doing Chores?

Should an allowance be tied to chores? Or are chores part of family life for which kids should not receive pay?  Parents and parenting experts disagree on this issue. Here’s what they say.

Regardless of the allowance question, chores are part of family life, says mom Lela Davidson, editor of ParentingSquad.com. She has given her two tweens household chores since they were “old enough to rub a rag along the baseboards.”  Requiring chores, she says, is “great way to teach them responsibility and a healthy work ethic.”

Susan Tordella, author of Raising Able: How Chores Empower Families, concurs. “Family chores teach kids life skills, self-discipline, responsibility and teamwork while nurturing their self-esteem,” she says.

Yes: Tie Chores To Allowance

Elk Township, NJ mom Tracie Wolf believe a child’s chores should be tied to his allowance. Wolf gives her 9-year-old son, Jack, an allowance every Friday for household jobs he completed during the week. “If he refuses to do any chore, he will lose all his allowance for that week,“ she says.

Mom Sandra Scott Drew, also of South Jersey, says her daughter, Alexis, 17, has been responsible for cleaning and maintaining the kitchen since she was age 11. Her allowance has increased gradually to reflect her responsibilities. “If she doesn’t do her chores, she doesn’t get the allowance,” said Drew.

No: Chores Are A Responsibility

For More Info

Allowance Manager —   Parents open a free account, then set an automatic weekly allowance and create a printable chores chart linked to it.

Family Education Network — Based on resources from educational publishers, provides resources to parents, including several articles on allowances.

Jump $tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy — A group of organizations dedicated to financial literacy provides educational resources, research and advocacy.  It maintains a clearinghouse of teaching resources, including several about allowances.

Kidsworth — This financial literacy site helps kids learn to save and spend wisely. Parents open a free account and space for each child to set, track and share financial goals.

Parenting Squad — You’ll find varied opinions in this community of parents, experts and authors. Several articles and posts discuss allowances.

Other parents do not pay an allowance for their kids to do chores. José Cardona, a father of six, says that in his family, “chores are assigned as a responsibility and expectation of living in the house. Everyone has to pitch in.”

In their book Because I Said So! Family Squabbles and How to Handle Them, Lauri Berkenkamp and Dr. Steven Atkins say, “All family members should have certain tasks that they are responsible for that aren’t on a fee-for-service basis.”

“An allowance should be an independent stream of income, used as its own learning experience,” says Michael Weiss, a content developer for financial literacy website Kidworth.com.

A Third Option: No Allowance

Joseph Collins, a father of two, does not link chores to allowance. “A majority of today’s children are involved in so much that the age-old tradition of children having chores has been compromised,” he observes.

The Collinses assign simple responsibilities to their children and pay their expenses as they occur. Weiss defends the value of an allowance. “An allowance is a healthy way to give your children financial skills that they can carry on through their adult lives.” 

He asks, “How are kids going to learn to be responsible at 18 with their own credit card if they’re not taught how to manage a few dollars a week at age 10?”

Cheryl Lynne Potter is a local  freelance writer. 

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