Junior needs a job. He just plunked down a whole lot of his ready cash for some fishing gear, and now his piggy bank is pretty empty. At 14, his options are quite limited. During the spring and summer, he mowed the lawn for his grandparents. He used to pet sit for our neighbors, but their cat recently passed away. Too bad we don’t live in New England anymore. Oh, the money he could be making with a snow shovel these days.
He wouldn’t have much competition, according to this blog post that caught my eye. The author, Mary Kaye, laments the fact that most kids don’t understand the value of a hard-earned dollar. I love how she writes,
When a child has to work towards something (a laptop, an iPod touch, a pair of new Uggs) it becomes more precious because of the efforts it took to get it. In the process of earning it, the child learns skills such as planning, accounting, time management, sales, customer service, perseverance and a host of others.
Amen, sister! We’ve tried really hard to implement this principle. At our house, the rule is that money received as gifts (usually checks) goes right into the savings account. This is not everyday spending money. However, money earned babysitting, pet sitting, mowing, or doing out-of-the-ordinary chores like cleaning out the garage is usually paid in cash. This is the money the kids have available for spending. We’ve tried to teach the kids how to comparison shop for the best value for their money. We’ve encouraged them to think long-term about how an item will be used. Hopefully this has molded them into good, responsible consumers.
Getting back to the work part of the equation, though, I wish more adults would take working kids seriously. Why are they so willing to throw money at kids no matter how small the job? When SuzyQ was 10, she did some pet sitting for a neighbor. All she had to do was feed their birds and pick up the mail for 10 days. I think she changed the newspaper in the cage once. The neighbors paid her $50–to put bird seed in a dish and check the mail box. In a different twist on the subject, Junior needed to do some volunteer work as part of his religious education. We got a huge snow storm, so he offered to shovel our neighbor’s long driveway for him. When he was finished, the neighbor insisted he take $20 for the work and even stuffed the money in his coat pocket. Junior put the $20 bill in the collection basket at church that Sunday.
Both of these were cases of neighbors just trying to be nice and show their gratitude. But they didn’t help to teach the kids that nothing in life is free or that a paycheck is the result of an honest day’s work. Nor does it help them see that more skilled work produces a higher wage or that a raise or bonus shouldn’t be expected but rather merited. It’s about the work ethic, people!
So I hate to wish for a snow storm, especially in the South, but…