Money makes the world go around
This month's question for unschooling voices was about money/allowance/payment to kids for jobs done. Laurie wanted to know how we handled the issue of money. It was a slowly evolving thing for us and how we approached money with the kids. In the days when we were rigid and trying to be part of the mainstream world our children had to earn their money by doing chores, keeping their rooms clean, being nice. Money was a very controlling thing. It could be taken away or given back at the slightest of whims. Good=money. Bad=poverty.
Then as we started approaching unschooling we gave money haphazardly as either we had it or we remembered that they might like some money. That didn't seem to work to well with every one either. Finally it dawned on me that the adults in the family had a regular salary that we got for doing our jobs. It wasn't tied to keeping our rooms clean, doing "chores" or being nice. It came from doing the job that was assigned to us. So why shouldn't the children also get money for doing their jobs? What were their jobs? Gosh, their responsibility is to be a kid! To grow, engage, pursue passions, explore their world, and live joyfully (even if that meant having a dirty room). So each pay period, they get money as well. We give them money based on their age, not because it really means anything, but it just seems to fit with their spending needs. My teenage daughter wants CD's, earrings, the ability to save to go to anime conventions. My tween daughter is a saver and enjoys saving up for big purchases like televisions (I wouldn't doubt if a car is in her big scheme of things). And my pre-teen son wants pocket money for candy bars, Legos and Magic cards.
The nice thing is that they aren't limited by that money. If there is something that they have really been wanting and just don't have enough for it they know that they can come to us and ask for help in reaching their goal. Sometimes we can and we joyfully give them the extra money. Sometimes we just can't and we work with them to think of creative ways to get what it is that they want. Perhaps it is a bit more saving time, maybe doing an odd job for a neighbor, or maybe mom has a check hanging around the house from a survey company or one she forgot to deposit after a show.
There are just so many more important things than money. Relationships, self esteem, and spirit. I can't put a price tag on those things. I'd prefer to "work to live" than "live to work." I hope my children grow up with that belief as well!