Written by Doctor G

Should We Let Our Kids Pay?

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money savvy pigRecently, I had the following exchange with a Mom on Facebook. She kindly gave me permission to share our Q&A here. I’ve removed identifying information, and edited a little to make the context clearer. What do YOU think?

I have a question for you. I want to know if it is ok that I allow this: My husband is recently travelling a lot. When he is away, my 7 yo feels he is in charge of me, my daughter (13) and my mom (when she is with us. She lives in South America).On my husband’s last trip, we were out to McD. for dinner and he brought his wallet and paid for dinner. Last night my son said what about movie night?? He bought a movie at Target and ordered pizza for us, with his own money. I helped him order and took him to Target. At first I wanted to pay him back; but I stopped and said why not?? Am I right?? Should I keep letting him take care of us?? Do you think this will create an obligation to take care of us in the future?? … Should I stop or just keep enjoying the sweet little boy of mine and let him treat us?? I don’t want to have issues with his future wife, you know!! Thank you in advance for your advice!!

Vanessa, on Facebook

This is a great question. First, I have to ask, where is he getting all this money?

Well, we live away from our extended family … so … he gets money presents on his birthday, Christmas, tips …

When you say “in charge of you and his sister” do you mean he looks out for you (man-of-the-house) or do you also mean he feels he is the adult? Does he listen respectfully and follow your rules, do what you say?

Yes, he feels he is the man-of-the-house. He even says “don’t worry, now that daddy is away, I will take care of you!” BUT he is still a kid, he follows my rules as always, he doesn’t have any attitude or anything. I haven’t feel it is a problem at all; but I don’t want to be driving into one … you know what I mean?

I do. I’d say, if your rule is that he can decide how to use his “own” money, then he can definitely decide to use it to do something lovely like that!

He could use his money; but I approve what he is spending it for. I guess I would keep letting him pay for our food when daddy is out and will ask him to keep saving for his stuff the moment I sense it is becoming an issue …

Sounds reasonable!

Money can teach, or undermine, respect and responsibility. When we give children money to “practice” with, they will have all kinds of ideas about how to use it. It is clearly not his obligation to pay for these thing, but he desires to show his love for his family in this way, as his grandparents have demonstrated to him.

As long as he remains respectful in his role as a child, and he does not “buy” his way into being excused for poor behavior, you can safely respect his desire to care for his family.

Anyone have any experience with this? What would you say to your second grader if they chose to use their “own” money this way?


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2 thoughts on “Should We Let Our Kids Pay?”

  1. I have a sense that Daddy said something to Vanessa’s son before he went away. He may have said something to the effect of, “You will be the Man-of-the-House, so take care of your Mom and sister.” That is the old-fashioned attitude that happened when I was a kid (a gazillion years ago).
    No matter how it started, it does seem that this young “man” is handling it nicely and respectfully. Perhaps he has a good role model in his father. That is, perhaps Dad is not bossy, but is also very respectful of his family members. If so, what a delightful thought to know that Vanessa’s son is growing up so nicely and will most likely be a good husband and father in the future.

    1. I could not agree more, Carol! This is a lovely passing down of tradition, and does not have to be chauvinistic at all.

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