Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Good morning fellow moms, dads and caregivers!

I am back with your weekly parenting news update. Here are some topics we recently discussed here at MotherTalkers:

This week we sadly mourned the loss of one of our moms, Janet Carol Lane Eaton, who was known as “Janetle” at both MotherTalkers and Daily Kos. She died of colon cancer at the age of 56.

For those of us fortunate to have known Janet either virtually or offline, she was an attorney by trade who left a job at a law firm to raise two children who are now in their 20s. She was smart, thoughtful and not afraid to hold back on her opinions. She was an inspiration to all of us and will be missed.

We were also shaken by the death of actress Natasha Richardson who died at the age of 45 from a freak skiing accident. She left behind her husband and two teenaged boys. While there is much talk in the media whether a helmet would have saved her, one thing we can all agree on is to hold our children as often as we can and never hold back from our loved ones.

Another topic that dominated the news this week, was the birthrate in the United States. More children were born in 2007 than at any other time in our country’s history, even at the peak of the baby boom 50 years ago. Some of the increase was due to the number of babies born to single, teenaged and Hispanic mothers. About 40 percent of those births were to single moms, again, more than at any other time in our history. But analysts expect less people to have children now that we are in a recession.

Also, in case you missed it, Eric Carle’s famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is 40 years old. Newsweek had a story about the author, who is now 80-years-old and living in Key West, Florida. Anyways, La Oruga Muy Hambrienta, Colores and Oso pardo, oso pardo, ¿qué ves ahí? are three of my children’s favorite books. I found two of the three books in the foreign language kid section of Barnes & Noble. They also like the Dr. Seuss books, the “dinosaur” series by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, and some “junk” books we found at the Scholastic Book Fair like Star Wars and Dora. What are your children’s favorite books?

Speaking of Dora, what do you think of the new doll to be introduced in the fall? Here is a picture of her at 10-years-old.

Also, we discussed the desperate measures some schools are taking to make up for budget shortfalls such as leasing cell tower space on school premises and selling ad space on exams. You have got to read some of our reader comments especially in regards to the ad space. They are funny!  

Finally, we discussed at what age children should receive allowances. There seemed to be agreement, at least on our site, that children should learn to earn and save money at around 7 years of age, but no money should be tied to household chores. This made sense to me.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


When Should Children Receive Allowances?

Editor’s Note: Fellow MTer “Edgy Mama” over at the Mountain Xpress also wrote an excellent story on this topic and even revealed how she, her husband and kids split chores at home. -Elisa

We have discussed allowances before, but I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce the topic. What better time to teach children about money than during a recession?

Most recently, a mom over at the Mamasource newsletter wondered at what age children should receive allowances and how much money should they be paid for chores.

Here were some of the responses:

Hi Camille,

Our son is 6 and we told him he’s get one dollar per week if he sets the table for dinner and cleans up his toys and feeds his fish. (We always have to double check on the fish). Your daughter can also help you collect the garbage and take the cans out to the street or help in the garden. I wouldn’t expect too much at this age but a few little things make them feel grown up and helpful.

Good luck.

Another letter:

We started young. Our 4 year old gets a dollar week. He has things that he is expected to do, such as make his bed, clear his plate (all meals) and help set the table for dinner. But it’s not really framed as an allowance for chores.

For us, it’s not as much about the tasks as it is about learning about money (he’s going to have to do the tasks if we pay him or not – we actually try not to tie the chores/money connection too tightly.).

We want him to think about his money, and we’re trying to teach him how to save. So, part of his money goes directly to savings. Some of it is for spending, although he hasn’t spent that much. He did save up for one lego toy he really wanted. When we go out of town, he brings some of his money — typically $5 — to buy a souvenir. He really appreciates those more than if I had to buy them. Plus, it gets him to practice interacting with the cashier.

That’s my 2 cents! :)

Many letters supported the conservative syndicated columnist Dave Ramsey’s tactic to teach children about money. Here is one of those letters:

I have another idea…we are just starting it ourselves. If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey – “Dave Says”…. :) He has a little kit called Financial Peace Jr. I think it is a fabulous plan because it’s teaching life skills about money that we all wish we knew before we figured it out!

The kit has three envelopes, one marked SAVE, one marked SPEND and one marked GIVE. It has a Chart – along the side you write down the chores and how much they are worth, then along the top are the days of the week. You can check mark when complete. There is also a small section of negatives – same deal, you write it down and how much it will cost them. At the end of the week, you calculate what they earned and subtract what cost them. Then they put it their envelopes.

The kit also includes a calculater, a clear coin purse so they can see how much money they are saving up, another magnet that you can put a picture of something they want to save for.

Most importantly, he calls it commission – trying to teach a life lesson that you are not getting it if you do not work. Work = pay. Still believes in family chores, but pick certain things so they can understand earning money.

Our daughter is 5 and my fervent wish is to teach her so much about money that she never has money problems and always has wealth and peace.

You can find the kit on www.DaveRamsey.com, it is called Financial Peace Jr and is about $20. Sign up for his emails and occassionally he has cheap or free shipping and his books and items go on a big sale. Also, you could make it yourself, just apply the principals.

He doesn’t want to call it allowance because it evokes entitlement mentality….We are learning Dave right now and just broke out the Commission sheet – we call it commission and chores. Best of luck!

However, a lot of people actually chimed in to say that paying your child for household chores is actually a bad idea. When children become adults, they will have to do those things on their own anyway — which is a good point.

I never got an allowance growing up and neither did my husband. My 10 yr old does chores (makes his bed, helps carry in / put away groceries, puts away clean dishes from dishwasher, takes out trash, and takes trash can out to curb on collection day). No one is ever going to pay you to clean your own toilet. Cleaning it yourself gets you the pleasure of using a clean toilet. (It is it’s own reward.) My husband and I don’t beleive in allowances as all it teaches is how easy money is to spend and teaches nothing about how hard it is to earn. My son gets to keep money gifts from birthdays, holidays and the Tooth Fairy, but he calls it all Pig Food, and he feeds his Piggy Bank. We give him gift cards to the book store, and he can buy what ever books he wants. If he wants more money, he’s going to have earn it by walking the neighbors dog, help cut their lawn, or offer to muck out stalls at the horse barn down the street. The lessson THAT will teach him is hard labor is HARD and he’d better do his best in school unless he wants to earn a living like that all his life.

At the end, the initial inquiring mom sided with the folks who said she should not pay for household chores. (I like that this newsletter includes follow-up from the person who originally sought out advice.)

Thank you for the very helpful responses! I had never considered the pit-falls of associating an allowance with chores! Makes perfect sense that those chores come with the territory of life, not employment. Thanks again! C

Do you give your children allowances? What do they have to do to receive the money and how much do you pay them?


How To Teach Kids About Money

MSN Money had a helpful guide on how to teach children about money as appropriate to their age.

Here is how the information was broken up:

Ages 3-5
• Teach the value of coins
• Distinguish wants from needs
• Make them prioritize

Ages 6-7
• Encourage them to save
• Start allowances

Ages 8-9
• Teach them how a bank works
• Encourage longer-term saving
• Make saving a habit

Ages 10-13
• Put them in charge of their clothes
• Teach the basics of the stock market

Ages 14-15
• Encourage a part-time job
• Increase their share of costs
• Stick with cash

Age 16 through college
• Teach them to manage checking
• Tackle credit
• Set expectations for college

There was detailed information between each point.

What else would you add the list? Don’t forget to list the ages of your children!