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:

https://motherofamanchild.com/2010/06/04/mother-of-a-man-child-pocket-money-its-never-enough-is-it/

https://motherofamanchild.com/2010/09/03/mother-of-a-man-child-learning-the-value-of-a-dollar/

 

Mother of a man-child: Pocket Money – it’s never enough is it? June 4, 2010

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The debate about pocket-money has probably raged in households for centuries.  It’s a bit like wages – it seems the more you earn the more you spend, and then the more you need and so the vicious cycle begins, for the balance of our working lives.

In the house of the Man-Child and Teen-Child, pocket-money has been paid for some years now.  We only started paying them pocket-money when they realised what the concept was about, and from an early age encouraged them to spend a little each week and save a little each week, for a rainy day, or for special something.

Based on what our friends pay their kids, we seem to have managed to minimise the pocket-money we pay quite well, always lagging in our generosity (not intentionally I have to say).  Interestingly every time a raise was sought, it was Man-Child who went into negotiation mode, invariably securing himself (and by default) his twin brother a small financial victory and windfall.

Of course when they were little, the point system seemed to work quite well, with scores for chores done, and bonus points/earnings for any extras.  As they got older, and life got busier, their list of chores seems to have diminished (I’m so desperate it’s now enough to make a bed daily and keep a room tidy) but the pressure on the rate of pay remains.

For those who haven’t yet endured the receiving end of a negotiation, here are some key points/techniques that will be used to secure increased parental funding:

  • Peer pressure is often used to good effect, eg. our friends all get WAY more than we do (insert massive number at least double what they “earn”)
  • Friend X just has to ask for money and he always gets some.  One day his Mum drove to school at lunchtime and gave him $50 for tuckshop.  (Note, I find the behaviour of the parent in this case horrifying – what sort of spoilt kids are they bringing up?)
  • We need more money if we have to pay for our mobiles as well (gee, try using the landline and not sending 500 texts a month and the money might last longer)
  • Mum, can I just have $5 for a drink/lunch ‘cos I’m meeting friends.  Response – why don’t you eat/drink for free at home, then meet your friends?  What happened to your pocket-money anyway?
  • Can I have an advance on next weeks pocket-money (hoping next week you’ll forget and pay them again)!
  • And beware the very, very clever ploy of asking ever so sweetly for some money in front of their friends.  I call this being fleeced.  Nothing like public pressure to ensure Mum comes across as the generous, caring type.

My twins are 14 now – at 14 years and 9 months they can get their first legitimate job (Maccas here they come).  In the meantime they rely on the generosity of us, their parents and our irregular need for odd jobs to be done around the house. Which we will happily pay for, when done well of course. 🙂