Home > Uncategorized > Bribery, Sibling Love and Building a Work Ethic

Bribery, Sibling Love and Building a Work Ethic

So the world is all upside down.  Monday came and went without a post and here it is Friday and I’m at the computer with my coffee.  Contrary to all likelihood, I’ve not yet snapped and quit my job in a blaze of fiery glory.  I just took a staycation.  Hubs and I have started this new tradition since we have both worked at our jobs long enough to have earned more vacation days than any reasonable person would ever use.  We take Spring Break off to hang with the kids and take care of stuff around the house.

Last year we did this.  We were busy.  We worked and slaved all week-long trying to accomplish everything we wanted to do.  This year, we got smart.  In fact, I think this is the most brilliant parenting move ever.  The kids have done most of the work for us.  Willingly.  Eagerly, even.

Here’s how it happened.  My kids want things.  They have a deep and abiding need to buy things at all times.  Over the years, Hubs and I have tired of buying all these things and all the negotiation that goes along with it.  We don’t want to hear the whining or the arguments.  We instituted a very simple policy.  If you want something, earn some money and save up for it.  It’s a very rare occasion when I will buy things for these kids for no reason.  Because there is no end.  There is no end to the things they want and need and absolutely must have or they will fall down and die.  I will buy them clothes, food, toiletries and one pedicure per year (the boy does not take me up on this generous offer.)

So, my daughter has recently decided that she wants to play guitar.  I’m good with that.  I think it’s great.  What I don’t think is great is the likelihood that she will love the guitar for six months, then stuff it under her bed.  So.  I made her a deal in which I will pay for lessons and 1/4 the price of the guitar, but she has to pay for the rest.  As a symbol of her commitment, if you will.  My son has recently found a great love for Yu-Gi-Oh cards, which Hubs and I both think are dumb and a huge waste of money.  Therefore, he is free to buy them, but we will not, under any circumstances, buy them with our money.

Perhaps we sound harsh.  Allow me to assure you that these kids have made us this way.  Daughter went through this guitar thing several years ago and when I was about to carry myself to the music store, all her guitar love vanished, never to be heard of for many years.  Son, on the other hand, feels that he needs to collect everything that can be collected.  He has had this affliction since he was very young and needed to collect rubber bathtub ducks in every color and name them all “Duckly.”  Yes, he’s cute, but I will not indulge his inner pack rat.

So, you may ask yourself just how I expect a thirteen and eleven year old to make money.  It’s not like they can go get a job, right?  Thanks, Child Labor Laws.  Thanks a lot.  The answer is chores, of course!  It’s still my money buying their stuff, but they have earned it.  It’s a lot different when they’re willing to work for it and nothing makes me feel more generous than a kid who comes to me and says, “Do you have any extra chores for me?  I’m trying to save up some money.”  So, we kicked off this week by telling these children that we have tons of work that needs to be done, we will pay nicely for all of it and we will issue paychecks at the end of the week and go shopping.

via frabz.com

via frabz.com

You know what happened, right?  Not only have my kids done all the chores that I didn’t want to do (organizing the cabinets, anyone?  Torture!)  All week they have come to me looking for work.  Truth be told, I ended up spending a stupid amount of money for these chores, but a couple of things happened.

  1. The kids worked hard and were rewarded.  Not only did they get to buy the things they wanted, but they did it with money that they had earned and they learned about a feeling of accomplishment.
  2. I got a lot more free time to drink coffee and spend time talking with my husband.  It’s amazing how little time we actually have together when we go out and work everyday.  Boo for earning a living!
  3. Each kid took over a new, permanent chore for an increase in their allowance.  I no longer have to do laundry and dishes, my friends.  Daughter dear made the mistake of uttering the words, “You don’t have to do anything anymore,” and was treated to a diatribe of how hard I work every day to put a roof over her little blonde head.
  4. Gradually, throughout the week, I saw the kids stop fighting amongst themselves and adopt a kids vs. parents approach.  That might sound bad, but considering how we started the week, it was a welcome change.  As we sat down to dye Easter eggs and prepare our holiday celebration, my sweet daughter uttered to her little brother, “No one cares what you think, you’re adopted.”  (He isn’t, and even if he was, we would care plenty about what he thinks.  To his credit, he looked at her and said, “No, I’m not.”  Not one to get worked up, that boy.  And a good thing since he’s got a, um, dramatic sister.)  By the end of the week, they were giggling and plotting against us.  A step in the right direction, for sure.  Oh, and I’m not worried about them working against me.  I’m bigger, smarter and much, much meaner.

So, yesterday we took them shopping and they spend every cent of their money, plus some, in daughter’s case.  Guitars aren’t cheap, you know.  I generously made her a loan with the agreement that I will own her behind until it’s paid off.  That dreaded chore of picking up sticks in the backyard finally has a taker.

So now they have things they want and they’re broke again.  And they still want more things.  Because there is no end.

Which actually works in my favor, because the week isn’t over and someone has to scrub the toilets.

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , ,
  1. April 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

    The toilet ALWAYS needs scrubbed! There were times when my kids decided to go without instead of doing paid for jobs. That never lasted for long. 😉

    • April 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

      We have that from time to time, but when it happens, it’s pretty easy for me to remind them that they want stuff. 😉

      • April 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm

        Yes, and sadly, we don’t necessarily grow out of that stage ….

  2. April 7, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Those darn Child Labor Laws!!! Loved this!!

    • April 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you! I hope the child labor people aren’t on to me…

  3. April 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

    When our kids want something, and their pocket money is finished, they ask the grandparents, who seems oblivious to the amount of money they spent on our kids. This seemed like a wonderful solution until I realised that whilst growing up, I had to do chores, without getting paid!

    So basically my parents decided to assign work to the first generation, whilst paying the next generation. That is like a credit card purchase is it not?

    • April 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

      You make an interesting point. My daughter is making a pretty good living mowing her grandparents’ yard each summer. I don’t seem to remember getting paid for that when I was her age…

  1. April 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

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