One of my blog bros wrote a piece the other day on teenagers and money. He and I both have youngins about the same age, dealing with similar teenagey things like driving and money and hormones, so we are frequently able to commisserate with one another on the joys of parenting our burgeoning rock stars.

I noticed straight away that he and his lady fair have the same attitude toward teenage allowances that Sarge and I have. In a nutshell, I am a firm believer that whatever they need to do to become smart and happy and capable and independent- that is their job. Especially if they are good kids to begin with.

To those of you whose feathers just ruffled at that notion, fear not. I shall explain myself. In a minute.

In the comments of the piece my friend wrote, I thought it was quite interesting that there were two comments which illustrated the extremes on both ends of the discussion.

One commenter was a proponent of never giving money that is not earned. And I am going to assume she meant what the majority of parents mean when they say this- chores, manual labor, payment upon completion of said task proportionate to the amount of energy used times force divided by pi.

Another commenter stated that she (?) just forked over $1300 for her kid’s prom.

My reactions to those two commenters are le sigh….. and, holy f***ing monkey shit, batman!…. respectively.

The first extreme is a quite common tenet to which parents adhere. Unfortunately, they seem to believe that manual back-breaking labor is the only kind of reality which garners an honest day’s wage. Sad. Why sad? Because it suggests to our kids that the only thing they are good for is mowing grass and doing the laundry.

Not only that, but when they have filled up their calendar with menial tasks in order to earn some pocket change, how do you expect them to have time to do anything that is truly worthwhile? You know, all that “changing the world” business you dreamed about when they were born?

Do you truly believe that the only way children can learn to appreciate money is through blood and sweat?

That shows a sad lack of faith in your child’s deeper sense of understanding, which they will never be able to cultivate if parents continue undermining it and chipping away at it with conflicting messages of “change the world” and “Quit wasting your time thinking and go mow my grass.”

Sure, kids should mow grass and do laundry. Absolutely, they should. But those things shouldn’t be anything more than necessary evils of the daily grind. They should do them because they need to be done. They should take the initiative without being told and without expecting payment.

No one is going to pay them every time they mow their own grass, fold baskets full of their own laundry, and dust their own tchotchkes in their own houses, that’s for damn sure.

And if you think initiative to do household chores is beyond that which a typical American teenager is capable, without expectation of payment and without constant reminders, come spend the afternoon at my house.

Not only that, but even when I do have to ask them (an even when Sarge growls his big, bad Sarge growl), I always say “thank you.” I know, right? Imagine that, parents treating kids like people by asking politely and saying “thank you.” It’s downright foul, I tell you! They’ll never learn how to be productive assembly-line members of the faceless society of ditch-diggers! Woe unto them!!

And stuff.


My kids have had their own checking accounts and debit cards since they were 7 and 8 years old. They receive fixed allowances regardless of chores for doing nothing more than being awesome kids. As long as they stay awesome, they will continue to get their allowances- the definition of awesome, of course, subject to Sarge’s and my expectations, their potential, and how closely the two meet. I could go into far more detail, but I’ll leave that for another time.

And as far as the bloody nonsense about spending $1300 on prom…. well… ummm….. not in this lifetime, jack.