THE WAY AMERICAN PARENTS THINK ABOUT CHORES IS BIZARRE
Full article: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/12/allowance-kids-chores-help/578848/
JOE PINSKER DECEMBER 26, 2018
These days, American children on average receive about $800 per year in allowance, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The vast majority of American parents who pay allowance tie it to the completion of work around the house.
A range of experts I consulted expressed concern that tying allowance very closely to chores. It can send kids unintentionally counterproductive messages about family, community, and personal responsibility. In fact, the way chores work in many households worldwide points to another way, in which kids get involved earlier, feel better about their contributions, and don’t need money as a bribe.
Suniya Luthar, a psychologist at Arizona State University who studies families, is skeptical of the idea of paying kids on a per-chore basis. “How sustainable is it if you’re going to pay a child a dime for each time he picks up his clothes off the floor?” she says. “What are you saying—that you’re owed something for taking care of your stuff?"
Luthar is not opposed to giving allowances, but she thinks it’s important to establish that certain core chores are done not because they’ll lead to payment, but because they keep the household running. “It’s part of what you do as a family,” Luthar says. “In a family, no one’s going to pay you to tie your own shoes or to put your clothes away.”
Johnson’s children—14-year-old twins and a 10-year-old—do not get an allowance. But they do get spending money from their mother as needed, as well as regular conversations about the work it takes to run a house. “Maybe my kids are just really strange,” she says, “but I really don’t have to say it more than once—I say, ‘Empty the trash,’ and they do it.”