Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Pocket Money-A Different Approach? January 28, 2011

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coinsThe age-old questions about pocket-money have again raised their heads in our household.  How much should we pay our men-children?  What chores should they have to do on a daily/weekly basis to earn it?  How do we ensure they actually DO anything to help around the house?  Should we threaten no pocket-money at all to encourage them to get a job and partially fund themselves?

Our approach to date has been a weekly allowance, paid to them to spend as they see fit.  It’s not a lot I admit ($15 week) but in addition we’ve also pay $30 per month for their mobile phone usage (no ridiculous plans for us, pre-paid is fine for teenagers).  Not surprisingly the $15 is spent at Maccas, Grill’d, or various other food establishments – on reflection it wouldn’t go far would it?  You can spend $10 on lunch without even trying.  And then we pay for all “necessary” items, including clothes, haircuts, shoes etc.

I should add there are limits imposed here too – the other day Man-Child I wanted another haircut, since he likes it kept just at a certain length.  Having had one just 4 weeks earlier I said I was prepared to pay for haircuts on a regular basis, but that 4 weekly was a little too high maintenance for a teenage boy.

Our main issue is this – they currently do NOTHING to earn the $15.  Their bedrooms seem destined to remain like a tip site, the dishwasher remains full of clean dishes, the towels stay on the bathroom floor, the dirty dishes are left wherever they used them and the dirty clothes never make it to the laundry.  It’s even worse when they’re on holidays and have all day to attend to these trifling tasks and just don’t bother.  Yes I know it’s all perfectly normal teenage behaviour, but as Mother of a Man-Child and Father of a Man-Child both work full-time, a little help would be more than appreciated.

The other week Man-Child I was heading off for a holiday with a friend.  I asked him to ensure his room was left clean so I wouldn’t have to endure the sight of it for five days.  Sure, no problems.  I later discovered that this was achieved by moving every item that was in my sight line from the hallway to behind the door, thereby achieving my goal (clean room) and his (not to do it)!

Man-Child II is equally frustrating.  As you know in the midst of our renovations, Mother of a Man-Child is only just holding it together, being the neat freak that I am.  Now that the builders are working on a daily basis inside the house, instead of up in the roof, the dust, dirt and piles of building materials are slowly invading every spare inch of our home.   So I was literally BEGGING Man-Child II to clean up his room (I kid you not I was on the verge of tears and asking him to please just do it for my sanity) and he smugly replied “it’s simple really, if you don’t want to look at it, just close the door”.  I explained I also liked to see daylight in the house so he simply said he would clean his room “later”!  Of course that meant he would make a half-hearted attempt at 2am and that basically it wouldn’t be done.

BTW, we’re not just talking about wet towels and clean and dirty clothes on the floor, along with various other teenage flotsam and jetsam.  It also included the dirty frying pan and utensils that Man-Child II had used to make bacon and eggs, and then parked in the kitchen sink yet again for us to clean.  As is customary, Father of a Man-Child had parked the afore-mentioned frying pay in his bedroom, on his bed.  It had been on the floor for three days at this point.  Nice!

So our recent idea for pocket-money is to stop making the regular payments and move to an as-needs basis.  So when they ask for $20 to go to the movies, we can say “sure, no problems, but just before you get it you need to clean your room and empty the dishwasher”.  This way we get what we want, and they get what they want, and theoretically we should all end up satisfied.  What remains to be seen is whether or not we will end up much worse off financially via this approach?  But at least we will feel like we’re extracting some value for the money spent.  Oh and we’ll no doubt have to endure a man-child tantrum along with the request to do anything.

I’m sure they’ll find a way to manipulate the system to their advantage, but we figure it’s worth a try.  I know the other approach is to give them a large sum of money for the month/term and say there, everything comes out of that amount, but I don’t think our men-children are quite that disciplined as yet and I can see $300 disappearing in two weeks flat.

So that’s the idea readers.  Any thoughts or past experiences and words of wisdom welcome.  I know this is an age-old problem, so I’m sure there’s a good solution.  What do you do for your kids?  Or if you’re not at that point, what did your parents do for you?  If it’s a really good idea I might even pay you!  LOL.

To read my previous musings on this topic see the links below:


4 Responses to “Mother of a Man-Child: Pocket Money-A Different Approach?”

  1. Trish Says:

    I do love reading your posts! Having a man-child myself I completely understand. I’ve been sitting here laughing out loud!

    Mine is given $20 per week and for that he has to keep his room tidy, feed the animals, (and do the kittty litter etc) clean the kitchen (dishes etc). As soon as he got a job, I figured, first job – first bill. So he got his mobile bill. (capped plan!) And I pay for haircuts, clothes etc.

    As he never remembers birthday presents, christmas presents, mothers day etc, I get the present of “I will clean the house for you. Top to bottom” I think that I have about 10 of them waiting for me that I can’t seem to claim when I want them… Just when he wants something from me!

    So he does work for it, the nagging from me still has to happen in order for him to get it done though. The only thing I havent worked out yet is now to not give in to “mum can I have $20 so I can go and do x”. The answer should be to get another shift at work but how do you then balance that with year 11? and the extra workload?

    • Thanks Trish – it’s nice to get another view. Based on what you pay your man-child it sounds like we’re on the money with our current amount (no pun intended). But i feel like we need to nag them to death (ours, not theirs)! I love the birthday present idea – if you ever receive it!
      Agree, I feel a fleecing coming on with way too many requests for $, which i know Father of a Man-Child is very generous with. Our next issue is if one man-child works out that for “equality” they should get the same $ regardless. Double fleecing!!!

  2. J Lo Says:

    Yes indeed I like to get value for my $$$ too as it is hard earnt. Also I like your, on a needs basis idea & think you should persue that for now. Not having children I have no other ideas. Did I really read it right, that Robert had the fry pan under his bed for 3 days???? Was it dirty or clean & did you punish him?

    • Thanks JLo for your endorsement. Will let you know how we go.
      Re the dirty frypan, no it was in man-child’s room for 3 days – he couldn’t be bothered washing it!! Gross huh. Were your brothers like this?

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