Amid the endless crumbs, piles of toys, and temper tantrums, it can be easy for parents to forget the long-term goal of child-rearing: Molding young minds in order to release decent human beings into the world. I mean, hopefully, we end up raising our children to be responsible adults who make positive contributions to society. But it's definitely not something that happens overnight; it's a process. So why not start this process early? For example, this mom makes her 5-year-old "pay rent." But her reason why has left many divided.
I know what you're probably thinking. "Pay rent? Say what?! Does she make her kindergartner hold down a job, too?" Allow me to clarify a little. As Scary Mommy reported, mom Essence Evans took to Facebook on Sunday with a bold announcement. "I make my 5 year old pay rent," Evans wrote. "Every week she gets $7 dollars in allowance. But I explained to her that in the real world most people spend most of their paycheck on bills with little to spend on themselves." OK, I'm totally with you so far, mama. Teaching our kiddos money management skills, as well as responsible budgeting habits, is something way more parents should probably be doing. But here's what Evans does next:
So I make her give me $5 dollars back. $1 for rent $1 for water $1 for electricity $1 for cable and $1 for food. The other $2 she gets to save or do what she wants with.
Wait, hold up. So this mom hands over $7 every week and then has her daughter physically give all but $2 back — and her 5-year-old is perfectly OK with this? (Teach me your ways!) Evans went on to explain that unbeknownst to her daughter, she stashes this "rent" into a savings account. When her daughter turns 18, Evans said she will give all the money back to her. "So if she decides to move out on her own she will have $3,380 to start off," the clever mama wrote.
This strategy not only prepares your child for the real world. But when they see how much real bills are they will appreciate you for giving them a huge discount.
Let's just say Facebook had a lot of feelings about forcing a 5-year-old to "pay rent." Commenters were decidedly divided on whether this was, in fact, a genius idea — or if it was over-the-top for the child's age.
"This is a great strategy for teaching the value of the dollar and fiscal responsibility. You deserve a parenting award," one person commented.
Another Facebook user — who seems to be a seasoned parent — wrote, "I did this when my kids were growing up. And they all know the meaning a dollar."
Yet another person chimed in with, "I think that is a wonderful idea. Maybe randomly change [sic] extra for things so she knows to save money on her own."
Still, others thought Evans' daughter was too young to be concerned about such adult responsibilities. "A child should not be worrying about water, electricity and rent," one person commented.
"Let them be little for a little while, just give her a savings account as a loving parent!" Another person agreed, writing, "Getting a child to work for spending money is ok but making them pay bills at 5 is just a bit to far."
Yet another Facebook user made a pretty valid point about what children should be worrying about at the tender age of 5:
Education first....my kids never got an allowance. I buy you everything and you bring me home grades. Money is not a stressor until you are graduated. An education should be more important than the stress of paying bills.
As TIME reported, studies have shown there are definitely benefits to giving children an allowance. In fact, children who receive an allowance are more likely to say they are knowledgeable about managing personal finances, understanding the value of a dollar and that they feel smart about money, when compared to kids who don't receive an allowance. So the way I see it, giving your kids an allowance can be a good thing — if the family wants to and is able to.
My kids are still fairly young (6,4, and 1) and we haven't even thought about giving them an allowance at this point — let alone charging for "rent." Granted, a weekly allowance of $7 per week for three kids would add up a lot faster than in Evans' case. So that's something to take into account. I guess what it boils down to is this: Do what you can. Give an allowance, if that's something you feel strongly about and are able to do. (And heck, charge 'em rent, if it suits your fancy.) Let them learn from their own money choices while it's still a low-risk situation. But at the very least, talk about money with your kids. Because it's far too important to be a taboo subject.
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