As a parent, you think about things you never really considered before. From bed times to meal times, from discipline to cleaning up… there’s SO MUCH about parenting that you just take for granted before having a child.
And one of those things is whether I’m going to let Mark III live in a state of poverty.
… Or, at least that’s what it might seem like to the outside world.
Here’s what I mean…
Most Parents Are The Bank (In The Wrong Way)
Many parents give their kids an allowance.
Nothing wrong with that.
Kids need money too, mostly because they always seem to be jonesing for another hit of candy.
I like the idea of allowance. As a parent, of course you’re taking care of your kids and making sure they have a roof over their heads… but maybe you’re also giving them a bit of money so they can buy things they like (and because it teaches them about finances: They can spend some now, they should also learn the value of saving, perhaps not spending it all on sugar but saving a bit for a toy they really want).
As our kids get older, they might like a bit of pocket money to hang out at the arcade with their friends (or whatever it is that kids do these days… buy apps for their phone, maybe).
But, many parents take an approach to allowance that I disagree with.
(Maybe your parents did this for you when you were a kid… and maybe you do this with your kids’ allowance now just because your parents did. So let me give you something to think about.)
Life Doesn’t Reward You For Doing What You’re Supposed To Do
As an adult, do you get paid to make your bed?
Do you get paid to put your plate in the sink?
Do you get paid to fold the laundry?
Do you get paid to take out the trash?
Do you get paid to mow the lawn?
(… to name a few.)
No. Those things are things you need to do to be a human being and to live a reasonably clean and tidy life (… although the truth is, you don’t have to do them yourself; or you can hire other people to do these things for you).
(That’s what I do, by the way—hire other people to do a lot of those things for me. But that’s a whole other topic about the value you can give by hiring people to do a job that they excel at, while reserving your time to focus on the things you love. I don’t clean the house, take trash out, clean dishes, or even mow the lawn and haven’t done so in years. Instead, I pay other people who enjoy those task, which puts food on the table for their family while also freeing me up to concentrate on the things that are important to me. Not to say I’ve never done my own laundry, taking out the trash and done dishes or even mow the lawn truth is I enjoy mowing the lawn that’s one of the ways I started as a kid entrepreneur… but I realized at a point in my life that my time was worth more than that activity.)
So I started thinking: why should we reward our children for doing those things?
I don’t want to reward Mark III for making his bed for two reasons: First, he should learn to do it himself because that’s what people do; second, it creates a reward system for doing that kind of work.
By paying Mark an allowance for doing chores, I’m creating a sense of reward around those basic chores, subtly implanting in his mind the link between doing regular household chores and getting money for it.
In my opinion, this sets a child’s aspirations to aim lower, striving to only complete the bare minimum in life and expecting to be rewarded for it with money to buy toys.
Hmmm… does that sound familiar? I think that’s the complaint that older generations have of Millennials.
And let’s be honest: is it the end of the world if they don’t make their bed? Sure, they should do it and it’s a good discipline to get into, just as washing the dishes means having dishes to eat off of the next day. But these are small things, even inconsequential, in the big scheme of things. The world won’t end if they don’t make their bed. And if they don’t do the dishes? Well, they’ll eventually learn that eating out of reheated Tupperware isn’t so fun either. None of this is worthy of getting paid for.
In my opinion, we shouldn’t pay children to do the things they should be doing in the first place; rather, parents should use firm parental direction, guidance, and discipline to raise children who do their daily chores because they are part of a household and everyone relies on each other in a household.
Does That Mean I’m Never Giving Mark III A Cent?
Just because I don’t think children should be rewarded for doing tasks that are expected of them, doesn’t mean I’m never giving Mark III any money.
Here’s what I’m going to do instead: I want to create a sense of reward in his mind for something bigger and more valuable than chores. Rather than rewarding him for making his bed or putting the dishes in the sink, I want to reward him for gaining useful knowledge.
I will pay him an allowance for every book he reads on the topic of marketing, sales, business, and success. Every time he reads a book on this topic, he’ll get some money.
I may even pay him to read some fun books as well, just to reinforce a love of reading and to teach him that reading books is far more rewarding than making sure his bed is made!
That ties closely to real life anyway, since those who learn (not necessarily in school but from books and mentors), and especially who take action from that learning, are the ones who will be well-rewarded.
Fact is, I never read a book until I graduated high school… Not one book! I skimmed To Kill A Mockingbird in preparation for a test in English class but I didn’t read a single book.
Yet, I know now that books contain amazing knowledge… but I was never interested in fictional books to escape the real world.
The first book I read was Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. I devoured that book… and I also felt like I was ripped off by my school because THAT book should be required reading for all.
And since devouring that book, I’ve gone on to read over 4,000 books… write 8 bestsellers… and I will NEVER stop reading or writing.
I’ve learned that books are rewarding and I want Mark III to form a life-long reading habit, which I will do by showing him how rewarding it is to gain knowledge from books.
As a parent, do I want Mark III to aspire for a reward for doing things that everyone should do anyway? Or do I want him to aspire for a reward because he expanded his mind, opened up new possibilities, and discovered new lessons that he can leverage for the rest of his life? The answer is simple and I know every parent wants the same thing for their child—to give them all the tools for the best life possible.
Think about this: if, by the age of 10 years old, he reads a book a month until he’s 18, he’ll consume 12 books for 8 years—that’s 96 books of wealth and knowledge!
(I bet most people in the world haven’t even read a fraction of books on topics like financial, wealth, success, mindset, legacy, etc… probably some people have NEVER read anything on these topics. If you are actively reading books on these topics then you understand what I mean the power in this and you’re probably actively devouring books that will help you grow.)
Earlier I said the world wouldn’t end if we raise a generation of children who don’t make their beds. But the world WILL end if we raise a generation of children who don’t expand their minds and fan the flames of curiosity, expansion, growth, and opportunism.
What Kind Of Legacy Do You Want To Create?
You often hear me talk about legacy. It’s a concept I frequently think about. Children are part of our legacy; they’re the next generation that continues on after us.
Most are worried about leaving a better world for our kids. Think on this for a minute: Shouldn’t we be focusing on helping the next generations become better people for the world as well?
We all know the facts that kids live in an instant gratification world. Hell, they don’t even know how to balance a check book. They got mommy and daddy’s credit card! I cringe every time I talk to a kid in high school or college and they chuckle and say “I have mom and dad’s credit card they let me use it.” GULP!
Parents who give their kids free access to a seemingly unlimited amount of money will not teach their children a love of learning or the skill of finding answers. I want to leave a legacy for future generations by teaching Mark III that reading (and learning!) is a rewarding activity.
So, it comes down to a simple question for every parent (myself included)… What kind of legacy do you want to create in your children? Do you want to create a legacy that rewards your child for inconsequential things that they should be doing anyway, or that they can easily hire someone else to do for them when they get older? Or do you want to create a legacy that rewards your child for expanding their mind and their future?
For me, the answer is simple.
Your friend and mentor,
Mark Evans DM,DN