Allowance vs. Wages vs. Shareholding

[In other news: the wife and I welcomed a new baby girl today! We don’t have a name, but we’re sure that will come . . . not that I’m going to post it here. Sorry.]

Now, this is academic for some of us, but academic always turns into practice, eventually. So the subject is, what kind of ‘compensation’ do you give to your children growing up, for various ‘chores’? Do you pay them at all? After all, you provide for all their needs, and its their duty to obey.

To that last part: I think all fathering needs to be modeled after, our heavenly Father. How does The Father treat His children? For example, as much as I believe in the value of discipline, I disagree with the idea that you have to punish every act of disobedience. God doesn’t do that, does He? No, He gives space to repent.

In the case of ‘compensation’, aren’t we duty bound to obey the Judge of all the Earth? Yes. Yet doesn’t He reward us despite it being our obligation, and that, beyond what we deserve? Again, yes.

Then we likewise; what form should ours take toward our children?

Allowance: Classic idea. Child is given a set sum on a ‘certain’ schedule. It seems better than Dad/Mom ‘just giving’ cash when the kid asks/begs/whines for it, and it teaches budgeting, so long as you don’t give advances.

On the downside, it can come across as an entitlement. Sometimes people withhold as a punishment for something like property damage, but otherwise it doesn’t seem tied to actual work.

Wages: I’ve been fond of this. You don’t “get” an allowance because you’re alive, you get “wages” for services rendered to the family. So wages increase or decrease based on work.

Downside, academically, while fair this sets up a business relationship with the family. Since you’re providing room and board, how much work do they have to do before you actually have to pay? And since Mom and Dad aren’t banks, can they really afford to pay for all the ‘extra’ work the child may be willing to do? If not, why should the child keep working?

Shareholding: My latest evolution/innovation in theoretical child rearing. I think the previous two systems, while have plusses, creating a me vs. them dynamic in the family. It incentivizes leaving the family for gain, and finding ways to ‘shield assets’ from the parent, because it’s their wealth vs. mine.

But if I believe in inheritance. Then I should be training my child with the understanding that one day everything I have will be theirs. Not like a lotto ticket, but wealth for a purpose, to build upon as I have built upon what was handed to me. If so then the child becomes a shareholder in the family’s ongoing success. Theoretically, then they shouldn’t be viewing the family is how do I get paid out of their assets, but how do I improve the value of our stock.

But wouldn’t that mean, the parent should withhold any payment to the child since they’ll get it all later? Again, look to The Father. Does The Father, own everything? Yes. But does He give to us? Yes. Why? So that we can practice using wisely.

There’s a saying that has stuck with me ever since I heard it:

“The poor see money as something to spend.” That means they look to instant gratification.

“The middle class see money as something to save.” That means they look at money as something to store up as protection against future calamity.

“The wealthy see as something to invest.” That means they view it as something to employ now, for future gain.

The way we compensate our children should be part of training them away from that first way of thinking to the last. Spending becomes a way to practice governance over a small kingdom. Sometimes, it is good to spend on ‘festivities’ for your kingdom; other times for roads and walls, etc. We need to be using allowance or whatever you want to call it as a training tool rather than a handout intended to be wasted (even if saved before wasted). To teach that the purpose of the asset is a future goal that serves the family and the kingdom.

Ultimately then, shareholding wouldn’t restrict compensation because the end goal is everything being given to the son/sons/daughter/daughters. Instead it becomes a way to manage the transition of power to a generation trained to receive it. Which is all perfectly biblical. To the servant who is faithful with a little, more will be given. “Son, you did well with that bike you purchased. You bought it carefully. You maintained it properly. Here’s a car. It comes out of the family’s assets, so take care of it. If you take care of it, we can put together for a better one or an addition to the house, or an expansion of the property, etc.,”

This way, the child becomes more and more responsible, trusted with more and more, and therefore freer. The child doesn’t have to go get a place of his own to “get out from under” his father’s roof, because the father is trusting everything over to the son. This might also be a way to avoid inheritance tax. Say gifting property over to the children 13k at a time.

That’s all. I gotta get back to taking care of this little girl. Thoughts?

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