Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parental Delusions: Allowances

If I was ever cursed with tiny people who relied on me for years on end, I think there are some things I would definitely do different from my parents. A lot of people have these sorts of things pseudo-planned out in their heads, but there are a few key things that I wish I had been able to experience as a child that I want to make sure my own kids would be exposed to.

Right now, all of these things involve allowance and my nerdy luxeries that my parents deemed immature or worthless at the time (and probably still do) but that have played a huge role in who I am and the person I am today.

There are a few things I would do similar though... so I guess we'll jump into it at that point.

One thing I'm glad my parents did was to make me work for my allowance every week. I had chores that had to be done before getting paid, and if for some reason I was lazy and didn't do them for a whole week, that was just a week of allowance that I missed. It taught me a very basic sense of responsibility and definitely prepared me for the eventual workplace I would jump into during my teen years. None of the chores were that large or anything though, which was good... it was the basic stuff like cleaning my room, making sure the basement was organized, pick up our things from the main level of the house, do our homework, help with yardwork, cleanup and prepare for meals, etc. As a kid it seemed like a pain, but as an adult I can definitely look back and see some good habits forming in that period and I can tell that part of my approach to work formed then too.

They also loaned me money, but not anything I couldn't "repay"... it was usually just a future allowance, with the agreement that I would have to do an extra chore for their inconvenience of paying me early. And then when that next week came up, if I didn't have my chores done I wouldn't get an allowance that next week as punishment for not following through on our agreement. Once again, it was an awesome way to teach a kid about how money works that sucked for me at the time. I don't know if they had thought through it all that much or if it just seemed like common sense to them, but compared to how most of my friends were raised and given allowance it was pretty different and very cool in retrospect.

Now for what I would do differently... I would give them multiple allowances; with the stipulation that each is for a different purpose. Obviously what they spent them on would depend on what interests they had, but if they are anything like me, one would be just a general spending money, one would be for games, and the other would be for comics/books.

But they wouldn't just get the money every week, they would have to do chores for each area. For the general allowance they would do housework and things like my parents made me do. Basic allowance earning things. But for the others I would require them to do things pertaining to those areas.

For the game, they would have to complete the previous game before getting an allowance for the next one. If they stopped shy of finishing it before wanting money for the next, then they would get less allowance for that next game. This comes out of my inability to complete games I buy and the general impulse buying which I suffer from. I see a game I'm interested in and have a few bucks to spare, I buy it and shelve it... sometimes for years, before ever playing it. Hopefully by asking my kids to complete them before moving to a new game, they will make it a habit to finish things they start and not overbuy what they love. And maybe if there's a coop component I'll make them play it with me to learn teamwork (which is also a great excuse for me to play games and call it "bonding" time, lol).

With comics, I would obviously ask them to finish what they bought the previous week, but to also discuss with me what was happening in each comics story/world (bc you know I'd be reading their comics too, lol). That way I could use it as a tool to improve their reading comprehension, fill gaps they may have glossed over, and explain things that may be a little too "adult" for their tiny brains. This comes from my envy of people who have been longtime comic readers because the vast amount of comics that exist and storylines that intertwine blow my mind and make getting into the current comic scene intimidating. If I had started as a kid I think it would seem much more friendly though and I'd have a better idea of how to navigate it all... its also a fantastic way to get kids to read and learn about basic art concepts, the latter of which I didn't really get until I was an adult.

I'd probably throw in money for music too... but with the way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised if music is more or less free by the time I was cursed with children. And even if the big names still charge, there's tons of awesome stuff for free online, so maybe I'd just make them pseudo-hipster kids on accident by making them listen to all my weird musical tastes. But they'd definitely need some money to learn an instrument... so I guess there's that.

Anyway, those are just some ideas I had after spending around $60 at the store buying graphic novels yesterday (and having drooled over some PS2 games I wanted at GameStop earlier in the day). I know that if my parents heard that's how I spent my money they would shake their heads and sigh, and I really wish that were different. I wish my parents had embraced my passions when I was younger and helped me to foster them, while at the same time learning about these things themselves so we had something in common to share. And really that's the goal I would set for myself and my own kids in just about everything.

...even if they liked sports. *twitch*

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