I've chucked a bunch of fruit fly carcasses out the front door this morning after making acceptably strong coffee without major interruptions. No sign of any houseflies or mosquitoes so my "Shut the Door" lecture coupled with newspaper swatting (at the bugs, not my kids) seemed to be effective. Team Testosterone is on a money-making mission so I kicked them to the basement to clean. A buck a boy. We'll see how they do.
The whole allowance issue is starting to come up--they want spending money, but we have no precedent set. To date, we provide for all their needs and most of their wants. Since I'm not a big shopper, they aren't exposed to a constant barrage of commercialism. We go to King's Variety Store once a week and I buy them each 5 pieces of penny candy--that used to suffice as an "allowance" of sorts. Holidays and visits from grandparents provide a pretty constant flow of new toys throughout the year. Certain things, clothes, shoes, school supplies, winter coats, field trip fees, swimming lessons and bicycles are a right/rite of childhood passage and Mr. D and I gladly supply them. So why do they need money?
Mr. T just came up from the basement--too much work, he claims. How do I help him understand the value of a dollar?
When Mr. T has had any money to speak of, he pisses it away on really stupid things. I imagine he has to do this a few times before becoming more thoughtful about his purchases. Mr. B just wants to keep up with him. Mr. G will take the money and be happy for a little while before dropping it on a counter or table and forgetting about it. I put that back in the "allowance" jar and dole it out again next time. But if we go to Target and Mr. T has money to buy something obnoxious, Mr. G and Mr. B feel left out and don't understand why Mr. T gets a new toy and they don't. And I hate spending money on the other two just because their older brother has no restraint so I usually tell him NO spending at all. Then there's the advertising from the Disney Channel, touting all the cool things a kid has to have to be popular/happy/accepted. If they didn't get the message loud enough there, they can go to school to hear it again. We're lucky to not live in a neighborhood, my kids don't have a bunch of friends with the latest and greatest, we don't compete with anyone.
Clearly my approach is hodge-podge and probably ineffective to boot. I like the idea of giving them "money to save, money to spend, money to give" and Mr. T opened a savings account earlier this year but hasn't wanted to add to it since. He's my One Thrill Wonder (do I foresee a future of one night stands and QVC purchases--Oh! I hope not!).
Mr. D and I try to model thrift and generosity, charity and saving. The kids hear us discuss the monthly budget and they've been told, "Not this month--we're all spent." I've pontificated about quality vs. quantity (why mommy won't shop at Walmart, why mommy only buys Land's End or Columbia or LL Bean winter wear). We give our hand-me-downs to other families instead of selling them in a rummage sale, we donate to Adopt-a-Family and the food pantry. I come from a family that was thrifty and eventually had plenty, but they're tight-fisted as a general rule. Mr. D comes from a family that had less, but are generous to a fault. Fortunately, we agree on the fundamental values of money and children, neither of us want to hand over the world and spoil them.
But I'm at a loss of how to negotiate this new world of material greed and monetary need. How have you taught your children the value of a dollar?