3 Surefire Ways to Unspoil Your Kids

This is a guest post from Amy Suardi of Frugal Mama. This is a timely and topical post for me after reading the New Yorker piece a few weeks ago about America’s spoiled children. Amy has some great strategies here – thank you, Amy.

Most American children are being treated like royalty and are treating their parents like serfs.  It may sound dramatic, but two-thirds of American parents think their kids are spoiled, according to a poll commissioned by Time and CNN and an eye-opening article by Elizabeth Kolbert for The New Yorker, Spoiled Rotten.

The problem is not just the sheer number of toys, electronics, clothes, sporting equipment, and TVs that kids have; it’s the way they treat their parents.  Or is it the way parents treat them?  Most of us have first-hand experience of the scenes of American life described in Spoiled Rotten and similar articles where kids manipulate their parents into tying their shoes, cleaning up their toy-littered rooms, and buying them iPads in response to a week-long whine.

If we don’t have any burning conviction or dire need to be the toughy, it’s easier for parents to just do what the kids want. At least for now, anyway. What will happen when they’re young adults, of course, remains to be seen, but sneak peeks are already leaking out.  Colleges complain that kids can’t do anything without their parents coaching them via cell phone, and psychotherapists are being funded by lost young adults (or more likely, their parents) who don’t know how to make themselves happy because their happiness was always orchestrated by you-know-who.

As a mother of two sons and two daughters who range in age from two to ten, I am in the thick of this American parenting thing.  And I get why unspoiling our kids does not come naturally.  Ironically, making kids work takes work.  Then again, having self-sufficient, respectful, helpful kids is too good of a thing to come easily.

I can count myself in the one-third of Americans who do not think my kids are spoiled, but I don’t possess any special virtue and I don’t stand on any moral high ground. It was by necessity that we ended up with kids who help me clean the entire house on the weekends, who change diapers and play games with their little brothers, and who don’t have personal electronics, load of toys, or even very much screen time. But it’s by choice that we continue down this road.

How did we do it? Here are three of our strategies:

One of our major goals was to buy a house of our own. My son Mark and I plant morning glories along our new front yard edible garden.

1.  Have goals for your money

Not everyone is living on a tight budget where spending less is a must, not a should. For the first ten years of our marriage, my husband and I grew our family on one salary.  We were on a mission to give our kids a comfortable life without going into debt, and that required living simply, being resourceful, and cooperating with our neighbors.  It was easy to say no to clothes for myself or even cable TV because we had limits (one salary) and goals (buy a house).  Now that we have that house and a bigger salary, our budget has loosened. But to avoid sliding into spending money just because we could, we set new goals:  saving for retirement, renovating our house, and building college funds.

Having clear financial goals helps keep us on track — and when we talk to our kids about those goals and how we prioritize spending — it’s easier for all of us to say “no” to little extras that eat away at our bank account and fill our lives with clutter.

My daughter Sofia puts 50% of her allowance into savings, 10% into charity giving, and 40% she can spend as she likes.

2.  Start an allowance plan for the kids

When kids have their own money, begging is reduced to almost zero.  When my kids were toddlers, I could take them to Target without the store becoming a moral battlefield (besides the one going on in my own mind).  Once the kids got how money worked, the peace was over.  We now give our kids an allowance every month and any discretionary spending must come out of their allotted amount.  “Can I please, please, please have this sparkly, pink pony?” can calmly be countered with, “If you want to spend your own money on it,”  and that’s usually the end of that.

Our allowance system has evolved over the years, and now we require our kids to portion it into three categories — spend, share, and save — and record running totals. Our daughters (now 10 and 8) are learning how to manage their money, how saving over time adds up, and how to keep a running tally of what they have available.

Mark helps clean up after dripping popsicle juice around the house. We also use chores as natural consequences to breaking rules.

3.  Adopt a system for household chores

Asking kids to help unload the dishwasher every now and then is not going to work. At least in our house, irregular requests are highly resisted, but a system of assigned tasks leaves little up for debate.  We started with each child getting herself ready for school and bed in time.  A list of tasks (brushing teeth, packing lunch, straightening up the room) must be completed in the allotted time. An X on the chart is equal to going to bed early that night, whereas smiley faces add up to occasional prizes.

For everyday family needs — like setting the table, straightening up common areas, and entertaining little ones before dinner — kids are assigned days of the week.  And on the weekends, when our house cleaning and laundry gets done, my daughters and I divide up all the chores.  Cleaning wheels or card-and-pocket charts work great for keeping the system fair and organized.

These systems don’t just happen naturally, of course.  In the old days, when manual labor dominated daily life and goods were costly, children were an essential part of the family economy.  Nowadays, asking children to help, or saying “no” to something we can easily afford, seems almost quaint.  But bringing up children that can take care of themselves, help with the housework, and entertain themselves without grabbing our iPhones is a beautiful thing. And as mother of five and author of The Happiest Mom, Meagan Francis, says, kids need to feel needed in an essential way.  Maybe today’s child-centered parents would feel better about setting limits if it were for the child’s good. The cherry on top? It’s good for parents too.

Amy Suardi is the author of Frugal Mama, host of the TLC Frugal Mama Makeover series, and regular writer for Parentables.  

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  1. Jennifer G says

    My parents raised me this way. Helping around the house was non-negotiable, even when I was a teenager and got a job outside the home will finishing high school. I did start earning an allowance (a very generous one at the time, and maybe even now, I got $15 a week for spending money and $10 lunch money in exchange for doing my weekly chores. The idea was that if I didn’t do a chore, I didn’t get paid for it, but I wasn’t actually allowed NOT to do a chore, so I always got all my money) once my sister moved out and I took on all of her responsibilities too. I,on the other hand, am an indulgent parent. Actually I am a lazy parent. I would rather just do whatever it is than fight to get my son to do it or to make the task take 5 times as long by letting him do it or help me. And right now is the perfect time to get him involved because he WANTS to learn. I guess that means I need to slow down and take time to teach him and then let it become his responsibility to keep it up.

    • says

      I’m working on this right now with my almost three year old. We’re trying to get him to tidy up after himself, take his plate into the kitchen after dinner and put things in the garbage (learning curve on this as he’s put some dishes in the garbage). Yes, getting him to help or do something takes longer than if I just did it myself. But I’m hoping any work I put in now gets rewarded later on. I want my kids to set the table, help with meal prep and clean up and pick-up their own rooms.
      I’m from a large family and we were self-sufficient by necessity. I was doing all of my own laundry by ten, could cook dinner for the family as a teen and packed my own lunches from a very young age.
      PS. My son wants to learn too. If he sees me picking things up and putting them away he joins in. Have to encourage it :)

      • Ashley says

        I have a 3 year old too and it’s so hard to not turn chores into a battle. Sometimes we can catch her in the right mood and she’s a great helper, but if she’s not in the mood it doesn’t work. How do you get a 3 year old to clean up a mess they made out of anger?

        • says

          I’m still just trying to be consistent in asking for things to be done. If we have to get out the door to something or I’m not feeling very patient, I’ll just do it myself.
          Most of that tasks we are working on right now are for meal time clean up. I’m just starting to work on toy clean up.
          Angry messes: we have those too. Like a cup of water dumped or thrown on the floor. When I have the energy for it I wait until he has calmed down and then give him a towel to mop up the mess. Even he even attempts to wipe the floor I consider it a good learning experience.
          I don’t want to give the impression that my not even three year old is setting the table, putting away his clean laundry or doing the dusting. Not even close!
          But I’m trying to get into a routine of asking him to help. The daycare he went to in Canada was so good with this. The kids, even if they couldn’t walk yet, were assisted to put their own dishes away after meals. Once the children were moved into the older two year-old room I witnessed that they all put their meal dishes away with little fuss.

          • says

            Hi Rachel and Ashley,

            I think the idea of having kids clean up messes created out of rebellion is a great consequence. We do that too, and even if it’s not cleaned up to my satisfaction, I hope that kids get the message that next time they better think before acting out in that way.

            Teaching kids when they’re in a good mood is a great plan. Getting them excited about their new tasks with charts and stickers (which add up to small prizes) is a tactic we have used that works quite well.

            I hear you on being consistent. It requires energy and motivation, but it really pays off. I think all humans — not just kids — need structure and rules. It just make life easier and more understandable. If kids never know what to expect from us, they have to always try different behaviors and it’s exhausting for everyone.

            I liked hearing about the Canadian preschool, Rachel. Schools have to ask kids to help out because of the sheer numbers, and their expectations can really build on our efforts at home.

            Amy

    • says

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m so impressed with how self-sufficient you were as a child and how many responsibilities your parents trusted you with. Your allowance was very generous, compared to ours anyway, and I like that. I think it’s so interesting that you came from a family where chores and allowance were a part of life, yet you’re not necessarily motivated to repeat the scenario. Of course I totally get it: setting up these systems, maintaining, and enforcing them takes energy and commitment. It’s definitely the hardest in the beginning, but I fully believe that it does pay off. Not only will you eventually get real help with household work, but as you know, you help your kids feel useful and you teach them life skills.

      Isn’t it adorable how little kids as early as one year old want to help? They want to be like us in every way, and it’s so cute that they don’t differentiate between what adults would consider “undesirable” activities and “fun” activities. Starting young requires patience but I think it’s really smart. Before age 9 or 10, kids think it’s just normal. Later they start comparing themselves to their classmates and, since not many American kids help out these days, they wonder why they have to.

      We aren’t going to stop because of that, but it makes it easier to get good habits ingrained early on.

      Thanks for writing in, Jennifer!

      Amy

  2. Rebecca says

    At what age do you think it’s a) appropriate to start assigning chores, and b) appropriate to give an allowance? Thanks!

    • says

      Amy’s away on vacation this week so I’m not sure if she’ll join in on the comments. Her blog has some great info in it. Her two younger children don’t get allowance yet but her older girls do.
      I’ll be starting a monthly allowance at five or six for my son. Probably a similar think of £ per year of age for the month.

    • says

      Hi Rebecca,

      I think four years old is a great age to start asking kids to help out with self-care and simple household chores like setting the table, cleaning up after dinner, and straightening up rooms. My four year old is all over our new system of getting ready for school by himself. We use a timer and a sticker chart, similar to the system I wrote about here:

      http://www.frugal-mama.com/2011/01/getting-ready-for-school-in-time-every-day/

      He can also vacuum and mop up messes, but I have not asked him to do regular household cleaning chores yet. However, once he’s five, he’ll start cleaning along with his sisters. No gender stereotyping here.

      With allowance, I think we’ll start at age five too. Even though I don’t link allowance with chores, it makes sense to me to have them going at the same time, since the children are effectively helping with the household economy.

      I hope this helps!
      Amy

  3. says

    I don’t have kids yet, but I have several neices who I see often. They don’t seem to have much experience with boundaries and when I actually follow through with something (like saying we’re leaving now, no you can’t go on the slide one more time) they throw a fit. I’m afraid that I’m going to scar them and go down in their memories as the mean aunt.

    • Camille says

      You can be consistent with setting boundaries AND be a fun auntie. :) Kids actually yearn for boundaries, and they will push until they feel resistance. You are wise to follow through with your instructions, and disregard their fits. That’s part of being a kid, but they will eventually respect you for it. And you may find yourself as the auntie who they come to when they can’t talk to their parents! Consistency is the key!!

      • says

        I agree Camille and Tiny Homestead!

        Consistency is key and even though kids (and adults) rail against rules, we all secretly desire and thrive on them. They help us be the best people we can be. Think if you had to recreate your morning routine every day, or if you never knew when the sun was going to set or rise. The routines of our lives make all those little decisions for us, so we aren’t burdened with making them over and over again.

        Kids like someone else making the decisions too, because too much power and too little structure is scary.

        It sounds like you are a wonderful and loving aunt, and I know it is probably hard to be the one who follows through, but you’re doing the right thing!

        Amy

  4. says

    I often get frustrated about how it feels like parenting is a non-stop endeavor with our 4 & 2 year old right now. Raising children to NOT be spoiled is a LOT of work in the younger years. As much work as it is now, I’m truly hoping that it pays off in the end.

    As for the note about allowance equating to less whining, it’s really child-dependent. I was a HUGE whiner and begger as a child even with having to practically do chores since birth to earn a meager allowance.

    • says

      Hi Megyn,

      I’m so with you. I think unspoling is actually harder than spoiling. Especially if you don’t have the circumstances, like we did, to necessitate asking kids to help or limiting discretionary spending. I really do think it will pay off in the end. I’m so confident of that that I continue to do things the “hard way” because I think it’s good for all of us.

      Re chores with whining: I think a more generous allowance allows parents to opt out of buying their kids toys, treats, and other extras. If kids are given a reasonable amount, we really can say, “Well, if you want to spend your own money on that…”

      Thanks for writing in, Megyn,
      Amy

    • Dana says

      Megyn –
      As a middle school teacher, I can say with absolute certainty that what you do to “unspoil” your kiddos in their early years REALLY pays off as they get older. I teach in a very affluent area, and it is so obvious to me which of my students have parents who expect them to help around the house. It’s also pretty obvious which kids get their own allowances have make some financial decisions for themselves – they’re a lot more responsible and respectful of their own and others’ property.

      Yes, it’s WAY more work to fight the battle of forcing your children to become responsible members of society. Consider it an investment in the future, so that when they’re 14, 18, 25…you won’t have to be doing as much work, and you’ll be able to trust that they can take care of themselves. I can’t even tell you how many people I met in my freshman year of dorm living who had never done their own laundry. WHAT. THE.

      Keep truckin’!

  5. Michelle says

    Thanks for sharing. My four-year old son has been saying he wants an ipad (they have them at school). Of course, we weren’t even considering going out and buying one for him. Well, maybe I was but my husband wasn’t. It would put a big dent in our budget, but I was still thinking he “needs” one. As though by not getting him one, I would be depriving him! Yikes, it’s scary how quickly my thinking can go this way!

    • says

      Hi Michelle,

      I know how you feel. We want to give our kids the world, and to make them happy, and to facilitate their social life. And many parents today actually have the means to do all those things.

      Before I bring any kind of electronic device or any kind of media portal into our lives, I think very very hard. Usually we start out thinking, Oh they’ll just use it to play this game, or do this homework.

      But if kids are anything like us, they’ll figure out more and more ways to spend time with these magical glowing things, and electronics are proving to be addictive and sometimes quite detrimental to our health.

      We often think in this country that technology and progress are categorically good. I don’t think that anymore.

      Take care,
      Amy

  6. Sarah says

    We have worked really hard to teach our kids responsibility and we are now seeing the fruits of our labors. With 4 kids, there is no way I could keep the house clean and tidy and meals made all by myself. But with their help, it’s doable; not easy, but possible. I tell my kids all the time how much I appreciate their help and how as a family, we need to work as a team. I was feeling a bit unwell today and my kids got themselves lunch, (sort of) tidied up, and attempted to put the baby to bed. Now if I could just get them to change diapers :)

    My 8 and 12 year old boys do a huge part of the housework and my 5 year old pitches in where he can.

    I find it shocking the way some parents allow their kids to speak to them. Then again, I am also shocked by the way some parents speak to their children…

    • says

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m so glad to hear that you are having such a positive experience with teaching kids responsibility. I do think that larger families help lead us in this direction, but busy families with two working parents need a lot of help too.

      I love that you tell your kids how much you appreciate them, and that you talk about working together as a team. I bet that makes them feel great, and it helps them get why they are helping.

      I also recently had an experience of being sick in bed and my kids taking over. It was a beautiful thing.

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

      Amy

  7. Diana says

    I love the honesty in the comments here. Way to go parents! It’s hard to acknowledge that you may be doing the things that you “swore you wouldn’t do” or hoped never to do. It’s hard though. I find myself doing so many things for my kids because I am impatient and probably lazy. Rather than waiting for my kids to do it, or risk having it done to a lower standard than I expect (I can be a little particular), I just do it myself and think…next time I’ll have them help, when I’m not in a hurry, or when they don’t have friends over or when… I have been working on minimizing all the stuff and activities in my life in hopes that it will also help me out with this. This definitely made me think…and I loved the article in the New Yorker. While I’m not planning on giving my children a machete anytime soon, I do plan to work to motivate myself to think past the here and now and look at the potential long-term impact I’m having on my kids. Great Article!

    • says

      Hi Diana,

      I know, didn’t you love the machete scenario?

      You are right in acknowledging that getting kids to help requires some time and planning. When I ask for a hand on a significant task in the spur of the moment, my kids often balk. I need to discuss with them first that I need their help, what the expectations are, what the schedule is (everything has to be “fair,” you know!), etc. Then I have to actually teach them how to do the thing I want done.

      Sometimes kids pick up really fast on how to do things; sometimes they need repeated instructions. I was flabbergasted when my 8 year old changed our toddler’s diaper all by herself — with never a demonstration from me!

      Take care,
      Amy

  8. says

    Goodness, it’s so true isn’t it?! We give in to stop the whining, but when is that point where we stop giving in? I guess if you set the pattern up so badly it’ll never stop… My boys are 18 months and 3.5 and I can already see myself falling into the trap of “just to stop the whining” with the older one. Not any more! Thank you for this reminder. The NY Times articles aren’t spread as widely in Australia but I’m off to have a read now. I presume the same issues are just as prevalent in Australia.

    • says

      Hi Kate,

      I know what you mean about the whining. I think it has been proven to be the single most annoying sound to parents. It really grates on my nerves, but I’ve found if I can be strong, it will subside and then I win.

      For example, I have to make my kids go outside and play. Weird, I know. They will whine and protest and get mad at me and make a million excuses. Then once they’re out there, they don’t want to come in for hours sometimes.

      So the most important ally a parent can have is commitment. Commitment to a value (unspoiling, or the benefits of outdoor play, or the importance of reading). Once we know what our values are and we decide they are good for our kids, then half the battle is fought.

      Thanks for writing in,
      Amy

  9. Juliet says

    Can I add a fourth and fifth in here? 4 – Model the desired behavior you want from your child. That means that you shouldnt be making any impulse purchases for yourself (this includes junk from the checkout counter). 5 – Teach your children about sustainable lifestyles. Buying hoards of new stuff isnt sustainable for this planet. My son at 7 totally understands this concept.

    • says

      Hi Juliet,

      Great points! You are so right about not falling into the “do as I say, not as I do” syndrome. I come across that a bit because I’m a blogger so I’m on the computer quite a bit. My kids are allowed very little screen time, so I make it a rule to not be on the computer between the hours of 3 and 9, when they are back from school and we are together as a family.

      And I so agree about sharing with children the dark side of cheap stuff. Even though we can afford it, doesn’t mean we should have it. I have found that kids are very receptive to ideas of reusing, recycling, and making do.

      Take care,
      Amy

  10. says

    This is a theme that seems to be showing up more and more now. I just read the New Yorker article, and I wonder how their study would look if they followed ten families living out in the middle of American farmland. I think it would turn out a little differently than the study on children in Los Angeles.

    • says

      Hi Jules,

      You bring up a good point. I wonder too. I am from Ohio and we have a place out in the country. I’m not sure that kids growing up in rural environments are raised that differently. Since the family farm has been pretty much obliterated by huge food corporations, there aren’t the same needs for everyone helping with lots of chores and harvesting etc.

      However, I will say a shining example of sane parenting and respectful kids are the Mennonites or Amish communities. We are friends with a family of Mennonites with 8 kids and they are amazing. Everyone chips in and never complains. I’ve never even seen the kids fight or be mean to each other.

      I’ve been trying to learn their tricks, but so far I haven’t come up with any major secret. I think a lot has to do with a simpler life, less money, lots of kids, and substinence farming, where kids really are part of the family economy.

      All the best,
      Amy

  11. says

    Thank you for this Amy. This is something that has been on my mind a while. My husband and I are good with money, and I’m desperately trying to find a way to ‘pass it down’ to our kids. When I was a child I had pocket money but I had to save it all, and it never seemed fair. I don’t want my children to feel that sense of unfairness, or not being able to make their own decisions. But at the same time I want them to understand it’s not ‘see…want…have…’

    • says

      Hi Jo,

      I know, I think it is so important that kids don’t think that anything they see they can just have. It’s unrealistic, and it creates expectations and entitlement that will not serve them well in life.

      I know you are excellent with your money, and I’m sure your kids have picked up a lot of that just by being part of your family. Our kids seem to really appreciate the allowance we give them, and they don’t mind having to save and share some of it. In fact, they seem to think it’s fun.

      Take care,
      Amy

  12. Queen Mary says

    This is a wonderful post and maybe you can reissue it around the Christmas holidays! When I was growing up, we never realized we were “poor,” and my kids never realized they were actually in the 1%! When my son went off to college he called me soon thereafter to tell me that my generation had ruined his generation! Both of our kids are self-supporting and living on their own, well, out of our house, son lives with others as he is still in school — PhD. They learned the consequences of their choices because we gave them a “safe place to fail.” It’s a term I heard used by a boy scout leader once and I think it’s important for kids to learn they will fail but can always pick themselves up again. And learning to defer gratification is a very important skill – my daughter’s first year living alone, paying all her own expenses, she managed a 10 day vacation with a girlfriend 3,000 miles away. We are so proud of her! It is so gratifying to know our kids have become wonderful, responsible adults!

    • says

      Hi Queen Mary,

      I’m so inspired by your story of your respectful, responsible, and resourceful kids. It’s so great to hear that — even though it seems so hard — we really can raise children who can navigate this complicated world with poise and intelligence.

      Thank you for sharing,
      Amy

  13. says

    Hi there,
    Thanks for these tips.
    I am actually planning about teaching my kid at home for some simple household chores.
    My little girl is almost 18 months old and she already know how sweep the floor, and it’s so cute to see her learning those things.

  14. Josie says

    I may have misread ormisunderstood, but why do the girls help with cleaning the house on the weekend and not the boys? Is it an age thing?

      • says

        Hi Josie,

        Yes, Rachel is right: my daughters are the two older children (10 and 8) and my sons are the younger (4 and 2). I want people to know that once my son is about five, he’ll be helping out too. It has nothing to do with gender.

        At 4 he is already starting to get himself ready for school and bed on time, and do some basic helping chores like setting the table and filling water glasses. It’s really cute, I have to say, to see him join his sisters in being helpful.

        Take care,
        Amy

  15. Tiffany says

    I have been working with my two year old on picking up toys when he’s finished playing with them. It sounds small, but we’re working our way towards other ‘chores’. It is still a battle sometimes, but the other day, I watched him put his blocks away when he was finished with them and then get out another toy. Triumph!

    • says

      Hi Tiffany,

      Starting with cleaning up one’s own toys is an excellent place to start. Kids definitely get that, and it really makes sense to everyone. I always feel a little bit like an indulgent parent when I clean up my kids’ toys. Even children as young as one can do that — at that age, it’s more a matter of convincing them to do it, even though they have the physical ability for sure.

      And I know what you mean about triumph. That is amazing that your son actually cleaned up himself without you asking him to!

      Take care,
      Amy

  16. Sara Z. says

    This is wonderful! I’m working with my 6 year old daughter to have more structure to her helping around the house. Like you said, irregular requests don’t cut it. My daughter loves to help…when she ***feels like it***. Obviously we have some work to do :)

    Thank you for the morale boost I needed along with some practical tips to help us succeed!

  17. Mom of A and a says

    Hi, just wanted to you know how much I liked this article and that I linked to it in my latest blog post.

  18. Flying solo in DC says

    Hi Amy, I’m finding your posts immensely helpful as I navigate my way through these issues as a single mother of two (6 and 9). I too want to instill some of the core values and responsibilities I experienced growing up. I also don’t believe in saying yes to everything, including cable TV, ipods, ipads, iphones (basically anything with a screen except for occasional computer and DVD time). I’m also trying to create a simpler, more meaningful life and quite honestly its challenging and lonely at times, but completely worth it. Here is my question. I am about to implement your suggestions for allowance and spend-save-share. Though I like the moon jar/bank idea, I am a little put off by the cost ($22 each on Amazon and I try to stay on a budget). However, my credit-union has a generous offer right now for signing up family members that will more than cover the cost (and leave some for savings, an added bonus). It seems like a win-win. But will opening individual bank accounts for both of my kids add more clutter to my life? Right now I have sub-accounts under my checking account for each of them, so opening new accounts isn’t really necessary. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

    • Flying solo in DC says

      Nevermind, problem solved. Found out the cu offer is for youth/adults 13+, so I’m off to buy the moon jars without further ado.

  19. karen says

    growing up we had chores (called saturday jobs) that we had to do because we were part of the family so they were not negotiable. If I wanted to spend the night at a friend’s house I had to make arrangements for when I would do my saturday jobs instead. I also received an allowance but it wasn’t tied to my chores since I didn’t have a choice not to do them.
    this is how I’d like to raise my children but I’m struggling with how my step-son fits into this since he doesn’t have chores at his mom’s house. I don’t want him to hate coming over but I don’t want there to be a double standard between him and the other children… it’s a puzzle I’m still working out.

  20. Brittany says

    My stepdaughter lived with her real mother until she was 5 and then has lived full-time with my husband and I for the past year and a half. Her real mother attempted to purchase her love (and still does) and sat her in front of a screen most of her life. I had a lot of unprogramming to do when she got here! She was so starved for attention that she followed me around everywhere I went, I can’t tell you how many times I have turned around and stepped on her :). I learned that children spoiled or not just really want to be with adults who love them. She and I have countless memories of doing things together now and I know for sure that when her future sibling arrives in July she will be a huge help. Thank you for sharing your point of view and making suggestions.

  21. Christi says

    I very much enjoyed your article and find it very much to along the path as my line of thinking, but I have 2 questions. First what is the “share” part of your allowance model? 2nd I find I have issues with my children helping with the household cleaning because I have to micromanage. Please understand I don’t micromanage by choice, it has become a necessity in our household because things have to be done a certain way or it doesn’t work. Example: our dishes have to be spotlessly precleaned before going in the dishwasher or they come out with food still stuck on them; our towels have to folded a certain way or they don’t fit on the closet shelf. Yes I am aware this sounds picky, I have already been told this, but what people fail to listen to is that we have a
    small house with very limited space and used appliances that aren’t perfect, and just like you we have financial goals from allowing us to go buy new appliances, and we are working on buying a new and larger house. So I do get my kids to help out without having to come in behind them and redo everything? And yes I have showed them how to the way it needs to be done and explained to them why, but their kids, and I don’t expect them to be perfect. Perfection is not always fun.

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