Spring has taken its time this year, but this week we saw some warm days and the snow began to melt. I’ve been dying to get in the garden for weeks now, so as soon as the snow line receded I was out there with my rake; Removing debri, dried foliage and leaves from my gardens in the hope that some sunlight and rain will wake them all up.
While I was outside the first day, my little 9 year old came out and grabbed the smaller rake. She raked next to me for 2 hours as the sun started to set, and I could tell you how beautiful she was, how proud I was and how much I never wanted that time together to end – but what also went through my mind was a question my sister asked earlier in the day. “Do you give an allowance, and if you do, how much do you give?”?
Truthfully, I never wanted to be the parent who gave an allowance, but her question had me looking over the possibility again. Here was my daughter, raking leaves with me without being asked, not complaining and only stopping to point out something she found or tell me she loves me. Yes, this was a girl who deserved praise and reward… a 9 year old girl who helps around the house daily without being asked. Who writes thank you notes to our friends and offers refreshments to anyone who comes through our door. A little girl who loves to sew and bake and make gifts for people because it makes her happy… was I crazy to not offer her an allowance?
Years ago when I became a mother I decided that an allowance wasn’t going to be something we did in our home. My mom tried it off and on in our home when I was growing up, and I always remembered that I helped only for the money. You might argue that it was a personal character flaw with me, but when I got older I looked back on my attitude feeling ashamed that I had needed to be paid to help around the house. Fast forward about 20 years, and I had my feelings about allowances renewed. My husband and I had only been married a few months and his 2 daughters came to visit for the weekend. In their mothers home they earned an allowance, and we would hear them talk of it often but never paid any attention to it. However, after we were married and I started to see them more, I would suggest that they help around the house before we left to go out (movies, bazaars, etc) but they would actually ask me. “how much will you pay us”? I’m talking about girls who were 11 and 13, not 6 and 8 – and they were serious. As much as we always enjoyed our visits with them, they wouldn’t lift a finger unless we discussed money first.
So there I was the other night, with my daughter and we were cleaning up the yard together and my sisters question from earlier in the day was flitting in and out of my mind. And I once again decided no – not because I think it’s wrong but because I love our family the way it is. We all work together to keep our home beautiful and we spend time together doing it… I might be missing an opportunity to teach her about budgeting, but that will come soon enough. Right now I’m teaching her family values.