Thursday, October 18, 2012

Money and working

It's the monthly Hearts at Home link-up today and the assigned topic is how do we each teach our children about money. Over the past week I've been thinking about this, and what I have landed on really has nothing to do with the nuts and bolts of children handling money. Instead, what is becoming increasingly important to me is how the adults in my children's lives (myself included) view and handle money and what are our underlying assumptions about it. You see, we can overtly teach all we want, but what our children actually learn is by observing how we live. I have two different strands of thoughts on this. The first is our insistence on tying work to money and the second is the idea of what is enough and do we really live as if we have enough. I will tackle the first idea today and then write about the second tomorrow.

As I have said before, we don't give our children allowances. We provide the necessities for our children and if they want something extra, then they are welcome to earn the money to buy it. Some of the things that are considered extras are small electronics, special clothes, pets (if you have them, you are responsible for their food and supplies) and phone minutes (we don't have a phone plan because we use them so infrequently). My older children have done babysitting, pet sitting, snow shoveling, tutoring, and worked as sound techs to earn this money. It seems to work. They all take pride in being able to pay for things themselves and definitely know how much effort is required to earn a dollar.

We have never paid for the jobs we expect them to do around the house. I know people have differing opinions on this and have heard from multiple sources that in the "real world" when adults work, they get paid, so we should offer the same consideration to our children. That's fine... I'm all for rewarding work. But the trouble with this line of thinking is that I'm an adult and I don't get paid for what I do. This is not sour grapes by any means, but merely a statement of fact. There is an awful lot of work in homemaking and while there are many benefits to this career, remuneration is not one of them.

As a society, though, we have so confused what is worthwhile with what is able to earn money that we don't think straight about it anymore. The message to women very often is unless you are getting paid for it, it is not worth doing. If you are not getting paid for it, it isn't real or valuable work. If you are not getting paid for you, you can't be influencing society. It's a little crazy, because if I were teaching other people's children, it would be considered very valuable. If I were cooking for paying guests, I would be called a chef. If I were cleaning other people's houses, I would be seen as doing what I could to support my family. If I stay home and do these things for my own family and practice hospitality to others, I am considered dead weight, not living up to my potential, a drain on society.

So, no, we do not pay our children for helping to make our home a pleasant and livable place. I want my children to know the satisfaction of a job well done. (Because we do make our children go back to try again, if the assigned job is not done satisfactorily.) I want my children to know exactly how much work goes into creating a home. Even if they choose to pay someone else to do it in the future, they will have a much better idea of what the hired person is doing. I want my children to grow up with the idea that we serve other people, including our families, by doing things for them whether we enjoy them or not. And I want my sons to see that it is a valuable thing to have a wife who aspires to the career of homemaker.

Oh, stop hyperventilating. Why can't we say that? Why can't a woman admit that this is what she wants to do with her life? And why can't a man understand its importance and choose to support her? More often than not, I listen to young women hem and haw about what they want to do with their lives because it is not acceptable to admit that you want to create a home and raise children. More often than not, I hear about men who are uncomfortable with their wife not earning a paycheck, as if there is something shameful about having a wife who doesn't work.

I want my daughters to know that choosing to create a home is a viable option and I want my sons to know that this is an important calling which should be supported.

Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.

This is Harvey. He is 3 years old and is the size of an infant. Harvey is extremely malnourished and also has some cranial-facial issues. This little one also touches my heart since K. was malnourished (at some points in his life, rather extremely) and two of my children have cranial-facial issues. It is something that sounds very scary, I know. But my children are so much more than their diagnoses. This little boy has never known what it is to be loved and cared for. Doesn't he deserve at least that?


Lizzie said...

Elizabeth, I love reading your blog. You always give me something to think about. My hyperventilation was not over the idea that a girl should aspire to be a homemaker. I have a son who loves babies, planning meals, cooking and sewing. I can absolutely see him spending some part of his life working at home. (Perhaps it's seen as real work if men are doing it?)

My pet peeve (one of them!) is that on so many issues relating to boy/girl stereotypes - what kinds of toys or colors or clothes or books they are supposed to be interested in, for example, and later the career options - people at least give lip service to the idea that girls can do anything. I'd love to see more open mindedness directed towards our boys.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to echo the previous comment. I like you blog and respect the work you do. But, I want sons/men to know that choosing to create a home is a viable option and I want daughters/women to know that this is an important calling which should be supported. I have several friends in which the father is homemaking and teaching children and the mother's career provides income. (Of course, both mother and father parent!)

Lucy said...

I want my son to be capable of making a pleasant home if he finds himself in the position of running one, but I think there is further societal upheaval inherent in guiding boys to be nurturers and girls to be soldiers (real or metaphorically as hardened corporate executive types). I don't believe it is biblical.

I support my kids doing anything they want within the priorities of scripture, which I believe puts family - husband, wife, home and raising children first if they exist. Couple that with godly conduct, attitudes and behavior and I think there is a bit of limiting of career choices for both sexes.

My dh is a homeschooling dad, and we both strive to do our best where we are at this time, but there is no doubt God's natural order of things is best.

On the other topic, my approach to paying the kids for work is the libertarian ideal of 'minding my own business'. All of us in the workforce get paid for basically doing someone else's work for them, be it a small mom and pop shop or a large corporation. Every business owner pays people to do his work for him.

I try to break it along those same lines in the house. The kids don't get paid for minding their own business (cleaning their room, picking up toys, helping with cooking and dishes etc.) but I might pay them to clean the master bedroom or bath, or tackle a big project in the basement where most of the stuff isn't theirs, that sort of thing.

I can appreciate the arguments on all sides of the kids allowance issue, and the approach I've narrowed down to in my opinion is real-life.

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