Parenting Strategies

Boys are also paid more allowance than girls for doing chores, according to a recent analysis of 10,000 families that use BusyKid, a chore app. Boys using the app earned twice what girls did for doing chores — an average of $13.80 a week, compared with girls’ $6.71.

I can’t decipher this passage no matter how hard I try. Parents pay money to their kids? Through an app? Six dollars? A week? How old are these kids that they can use an app but still need six bucks a week so badly? It’s less than a dollar a day. How do these conversations go?

“Mom, I need money.’

“Here, do the dishes and I’ll send you ninety cents through an app.”

“Oh, fuck you, you fussy old cow.”

Doesn’t the smartphone where the app is presumably located cost more than that?

On a more serious note, N asked me combatively if we were going to make Klara do chores and I gave him a murderous look and explained that in Ukrainian villages when a young girl tried to do something around the house, she was told to go brush her hair instead because once she got married her mother-in-law was going to make her do chores, and she should enjoy her life in the meantime, so that was the end of that discussion.

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21 thoughts on “Parenting Strategies”

  1. Ha ha! I knew it was an American thing to pay children to do chores (to inculcate good work ethics or whatever) but never looked at it this way.

    BTW, can a parent be booked for child labor if they pay their kids for chores? 😀

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    1. Very American. I never heard of anything like this before. And why on Earth do people need an app for this? Because they can’t make the exact change and fear overpaying?

      I’m not criticizing, I’m just enjoying the cultural discovery.

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  2. When I was a child, circa 1955, all the children in the family were expected to do chores, but we were not paid for them. We did get an allowance of twenty-five cents every two weeks, but this was not dependent on the chores’ being done. If we saved the money instead of spending it, when we had a dollar, my dad would match it with another dollar and deposit the two dollars into our individual savings accounts. I guess 25 cents at that time was equivalent to about $5 today.

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    1. This is similar to how our allowances and chores were handled. My allowance I think started at 50 cents a week when I was very young (I’d use it to buy a piece of chocolate) and eventually got up to $5.

      The idea of not having kids do chores is mindboggling to me, as an American. Not that I think they should have a lot.

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      1. Chores sounds like it’s something bad. And paying for it reinforces the idea that it’s not something anybody wants to do. I guess it’s all part of this “life is a vale of tears” philosophy. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just interesting to me.

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        1. I am against paying kids for chores for the exact reason you give. But I know as a kid I liked dusting because I got to spray windex. And then when I started living on my own I knew how to do laundry, etc.; some people don’t and I always felt bad for them.

          I think my parents’ philosophy on chores was “we are all in this together.” That having everyone working together and contributing to the household would help create togetherness. That and wanting to prepare us for the next phase of life as mentioned above. And finally, they just didn’t want to be the ones to do all the housework!

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  3. I think the most I ever got was $1.50 a week. My parents gave my sister and I each one chore to do on a regular basis, and for everything else we’d get paid if we volunteered: picking up sticks after a storm was a penny or a nickel a stick, mowing the lawn would be $20. We didn’t have to do much on a regular basis — just empty the dishwasher and take out the garbage.

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  4. We didn’t get fixed chores but were expected to help with certain tasks — especially those involving ourselves. For example, from middle-school, we were expected to make our own school lunches (nothing too elaborate — a sandwich and some fruit) the night before and fold our own laundry. We were also expected to set and help clear out the dinner table. It was not a bad thing by any means, and certainly helped me become more independent when it was time to leave home.

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        1. See, this is the kind of structure I do understand. Kids learn to do things for themselves, that’s great. But paying them tiny amounts through an app on a super expensive smart phone sounds so strange. Don’t the kids understand how much the phone and the monthly plan cost?

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          1. “paying them tiny amounts through an app on a super expensive smart phone”

            More evidence for my simple rule – smart phones ruin everything. There is nothing redeeming about those instruments of Satan.
            My brother and I didn’t have set chores but we were often told/asked/ordered to do things around the house but getting us to actually do anything was usually more trouble than it was worth.
            We got a little walking around money and a couple bucks a week allowance for toys, comics etc.

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  5. I’m another who had a regular small allowance growing up (I think I started around $0.50 per week as a 5 year old, and it would get raised a little bit every time I had a birthday ) and was also expected to do lots of chores (which increased as I got older and more capable). The two things were somewhat connected, but not at all in the way that this weird and crazy app concept seems to be. My parents expected the chores to be done (setting/clearing the table, dishes, laundry, cleaning, taking out the trash, taking care of the pets, etc.) – if we did not do the chores, or had to be reminded constantly, the allowance was taken away (or threatened to be taken away), in the same way that other privileges (e.g. computer time) were taken away if we didn’t follow the relevant rules for those things. I was eager to please, and I don’t think I ever actually had my allowance taken away, though there were definitely weeks where I told my parents it should because I’d been slacking…

    I appreciated my allowance as a kid, because it let me learn to set financial goals (want to buy the $5 book? Save your allowance for some number of weeks and you can!) – it also gave me some freedom as an older kid/teen to purchase things for myself instead of constantly having to ask my parents for money to buy a CD or book or anything else, and my parents could simply respond “save your allowance” instead of saying “no” to everything or having to make decisions for me constantly.

    I will say that when I was a teenager, my dad used to pay me to do his laundry (in my house we were each responsible for doing our own laundry – I started running the machines myself when I was in kindergarten) – this was separate from my allowance, and was payment for a service “above and beyond” my regular household duties. I could see an app being useful for something like that, but really, it seems rather excessive – if you’re going to pay your kid, at least do it in cash so it’s a tangible thing for them!

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  6. My brother and I also were given small allowances (50 cents per week, which gradually increased to a few dollars per week over the years). Where we grew up, it was definitely the norm. However, this wasn’t tied to doing chores in the way that weird app seems to. We did have chores, though my parents never called them that. I did my own laundry from the age of 8, we were expected to wash our own dishes if we had a snack, that sort of thing. In the summers I’d water the garden for my father, or we’d do the hoovering if our parents asked. As far as I can remember, there wasn’t a particular punishment for not doing our chores because it wasn’t presented to us in that way. Rather, it was just presented to us things you do when you live in a household with other people, and it all felt very normal and matter of fact. My parents are themselves immigrants and both from a culture where middle class people don’t do any housework of any kind, so I think this was their way of figuring out a system that worked for us all. The absolute best thing my parents ever did for me came a bit later, when I started having after-school and summer jobs. My parents’ rule for that was that when my paycheck arrived, half the amount had to be deposited into my savings account and then I could do as I pleased with the other half. This has served me well over the years, and even in college and in my early 20s I was one of the few people in my group of friends who always had a decent amount of savings (which were used for big things, like vacations or moving costs).

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  7. I have never had an allowance – just asked for money if I needed something and for small expenses like buying cold drinks from a vending machine at school.

    Never had any ‘official’ chores either, but helped my grandmother cook when she asked and washed dishes a lot.

    Are you sure such behavior in Ukrainian villages was not limited to your relatives?

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  8. Reading up on the app, if you want to actually give your kids cash, you have to get the cash out and pay them. Otherwise you can transfer the funds to gift cards or investments or charities online. I would say that it’s useful as a tracking app, if you want to ask your kids to do extra, but it’s only set up to deal with a specific weekly amount. I think if you’re trying to teach your kids about the value of work for money, it’s probably better to give them physical cash. On the other had, it does sound like it might be a relatively simple way to start a savings account for a minor, because it’s getting harder to do so at banks.

    I was put in charge of laundry for the entire household when I was 8. My parents ran a foster home, so I was doing laundry for between 5-8 people at a time. My mother bragged to everyone that she would never dream of paying us kids to do housework, because she wouldn’t want us to feel “entitled”

    When I was 14 she divorced my father, and I was put in charge of full time care for my disabled brother, all housework, cooking all meals, and helping her run a business from home. I didn’t get paid for any of that either, but I did get a lot of guilt if I needed new clothes or dental care, because “when she was my age she already had a part-time job” that she had decided to move us far away from town and off any bus route didn’t matter. I was just supposed to bootstrap my way into a job, somehow
    -_-

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  9. We did not have “chores” in my US family but my Danish one paid us to scrub the kitchen floor. We also did all the dishes but that was not paid, it was our part.

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  10. We tried the paid chores thing for a little while when I was a kid, but it never really stuck. I remember one year in particular when we had a large garden and my parents paid us a nickel for every rock we cleared out… After doing that for a day I realized it wasn’t worth the effort. But I was also a tidy and relatively obedient kid and understood that I should contribute to the household. I would save up money I got from relatives for birthdays and holidays to pay for expensive items my parents did not want to shell out for.

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