In the first month of the first year we sent our firstborn son to preschool, he came home saying he wanted a shirt that said "G-A-P" on it because that's what all his buddies had. He was three and couldn't yet read or know that G-A-P was the name of a store. He just knew that it was a popular clothing item amongst his classmates and he wanted to fit in.
|O-L-D-N-A-V-Y is close enough.|
Fast forward many years and many children later, and we are constantly fighting the but-so's complaints. "But so-and-so gets an allowance!" "But so-and-so's family doesn't make them do chores!" "But so-and-so has 1000 Pokemon cards!"".
Our replies to any of their generic complaints until now have been:
~ Every family does things differently.
~ Well, so-and so would probably rather switch places with you and have tons of siblings instead of the coolest toys.
~ We may not have a lot of money, but we have a lot of love.
~ God gave YOU to US to parent and WE are trying to get YOU back to HIM.
~ We do give you an allowance...you are allowed to live in our house and eat our food.
Even though I know in my head we are trying to raise them the best we can, my heart sometimes feels guilty that we do expect a lot from them and don't give them much stuff in return. They have assigned chores and we have pretty strict rules when it comes to what they can watch/listen to/eat, so we try to do fun family things on the weekends and treat them in inexpensive ways. Because I'd much rather spend a little extra money making memories than 0.5 % interest.
|Like the photo, our family is far from perfect but pretty happy!|
Recently, John-Paul needed a whole new pack of pens even though school had just started and I had just purchased all his supplies. He needed them because he lost them, as he is known to do. To teach him a lesson, I made him buy the new pens himself, and $3.00 later I felt pretty good in the parenting department.
Soon after, Andrew "lost" his black shoes that he wears to serve at Mass. He is probably our most responsible kid, so this was a rare occurrence. He searched everywhere for them for days, but no luck. He told me he needed to buy new ones, and knew that he had to pay for them himself just like John-Paul had to pay for his pens.
In order to be consistent, I took Andrew to the store where I helped him pick out the cheapest option, and $14.00 later I felt pretty guilty. I didn't even want to make him pay for the shoes, because honestly he needed new ones anyway, and misplacing something is so unusual for him. But he had seen that The Consequence of losing His Stuff was to buy More Stuff with his own money. I couldn't exactly back out at that point.
So now I'm left wondering if I did the right thing. I'm also contemplating giving them an allowance for the first time ever. I don't want to pay them to do chores that they should be expected to do in order to make our family and home run smoothly, but I also can't expect them to pay for things when they have no means of income. Phil feels very strongly that we should treat them for being nice and helpful kids instead of them being nice and helpful in order to get treats. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.
For now, we are trying to discern what would work best for our kids and would love any input you have to share! (Why rethink the wheel when you've already been driving it all around??)