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Allowance and Stepchildren

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
My 12 yr old SS lives with his mother, and sees us for 6 weeks during the summer, every other weekend, Wednesdays, and alternating holidays. He lives about 30 min away, and my DH has always been very active in his life.
SS does not receive an allowance and does not have a job of any sort. He thus never has any money of his own, unless someone gives it to him. I consider him to be somewhat spoiled and materialistic, and though he is generally a good kid, he is also sometimes a pre-teen brat.

I think that having an allowance or a job would help him learn the value of money and of hard work. I think my DH agrees with me (and obviously this is his decision, not mine) but the problem is that SS is not with us that often. I hesitate to give him an allowance when we only see him infrequently and when he has hardly any chores or other responsibilities at our house. I guess I feel that the money will fall into the "sinkhole" that is his mother's. At the same time, I get tired of being nickel and dimed for things I used to consider treats but he seems to consider necessities. I would like to be able to tell him that if he wants something he has to buy it. I also think allowances are valuable in teaching children money management.

I'm also kind of annoyed that his mother doesn't see this as important, but I obviously can't change her.

What do you do? What should I do? If I do give him an allowance, should it be tied to chores? How much should it be?

Thanks.
post #2 of 30
Allowance is something that is dp's decision. Does he agree with your point of view on things?
post #3 of 30
We don't give my DSS an allowance here, because he doesn't have a similar option with his mom. She thinks he is too young (11) and shouldn't have to start "work" at such a young age. I know that my DH thinks it is a good idea, and teaches a value for money when you have to work to earn something vs just have a $20 handed to you. So my DD (12) who lives with us FT does have an allowance and earns money through babysitting.

DSS does have certain small chores around our house like keeping his room tidy and taking the dog out. Those are done for free, the same way I do the laundry for the family and make dinner, DH takes out the garbage, etc.
post #4 of 30
Everyone who lives in this house (full or part time) contributes to the routine maintenance of the home. Nobody gets paid for it. However, kids can be paid for extra or especially onerous chores, and if they want money they are allowed to ask for chores, though pestering us if we say no is not allowed. My house and yard were gorgeous when two of my boys were saving for new bikes!

Everyone who lives in this house also gets a little mad money to use for non-essential treats. We reserve the right to put boundaries around how the children spend the money since we view it as a tool for learning to manage money and save for special things.

Those are our values so that's what we do here. It's different at their other homes but we don't base our decisions about what to do on what they do there.
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
Everyone who lives in this house (full or part time) contributes to the routine maintenance of the home. Nobody gets paid for it. However, kids can be paid for extra or especially onerous chores, and if they want money they are allowed to ask for chores, though pestering us if we say no is not allowed. My house and yard were gorgeous when two of my boys were saving for new bikes!

Everyone who lives in this house also gets a little mad money to use for non-essential treats. We reserve the right to put boundaries around how the children spend the money since we view it as a tool for learning to manage money and save for special things.
That is a pretty good summary of how I grew up and how it will be handled at our house. Our kids are still pretty young and we are just beginning to think about it for the oldest... but the above poster pretty much spelled out our philosophy!
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
Everyone who lives in this house (full or part time) contributes to the routine maintenance of the home. Nobody gets paid for it. However, kids can be paid for extra or especially onerous chores, and if they want money they are allowed to ask for chores, though pestering us if we say no is not allowed. My house and yard were gorgeous when two of my boys were saving for new bikes!

Everyone who lives in this house also gets a little mad money to use for non-essential treats. We reserve the right to put boundaries around how the children spend the money since we view it as a tool for learning to manage money and save for special things.

Those are our values so that's what we do here. It's different at their other homes but we don't base our decisions about what to do on what they do there.

Yup, same here. My ss isn't here much but when he's here, he participates and helps with the chores my kids do daily. We have "I love you" gifts that we give occasionally and if any of the kids (including dss) wants something big, they do above-and-beyond chores to save up the money for it.
post #7 of 30
We don't give an allowance here either. We do encourage them to come up with ways to make money. DSD has had a lemonade and donut stand. We will front the money for the suppllies. She will reimburse that money and keep the profit. One morning or afternoon of doing that is generally good for $15. We do have some generous neighbors that let them keep the change. She loves it and feels in control of earning money for herself.
post #8 of 30
I also agree with UptownZoo. Everyone who lives here (and is old enough) is expected to do their part to keep up the house. DSD lives here half of the time. We have toyed with the idea of giving DSD an allowance (we talked about it around when she started kindergarten and her 5th birthday). It didn't seem like something that she was ready for at that time, so we waited.

DF wanted to start an allowance once she was mature enough to handle the concept of chores. ATM she has three things that she does regularly, when we ask (help set the table, clean up her toys/room, help clean Chuckë's cage). These aren't necessarily things that she takes ownership of, kwim? She does them, but she doesn't think of them as her chores.

However, when she does get an allowance, it won't be tied to chores. Otherwise, she could just choose to forgo the allowance and not to the chores, and both items are just part of being in our family (once you are of age).

With your dss, I would give him responsibilities when he is with you, and give him some sort of allowance proportional to his time with you and his age. When he is with you for a chunk of time in the summer, increase it. Base it off of what the other kids receive.
post #9 of 30
My DSD is only 4, but DP has been giving her an allowance into her piggy bank for as long as I have known them, and likely before. She gets a $1 for helping him clean her hamster cage. And she gets a lot of loose change from him and her grandparents that go into the piggy bank too.
post #10 of 30
We decided quite some time ago that we didn't want to be in the position of "rewarding" the kids for simply being good people and good citizens of the household. All of the children (ages 7, 9, 9 and 11) in our household (full or part-time) are expected to contribute to the upkeep of the home without reimbursement. This is what you do when you live with people. The children are expected to do a very reasonable number of chores that are appropriate to their age. If they do not do their chores (which are not onerous and take about 5-10 minutes/day), they lose privilages - video games, visits to friend's houses, etc. Each child is given a small amount of money per week that is not tied to his or her chores. It is with this money that the children are expected to buy most of their non-essentials. It actually works out very well because it has taken the fight out of many situations where whining would rear its ugly head: the ice cream truck, visits to the toy store when we're downtown, video game rental, stickers for the skateboard, etc. We simply do not guy these things for the kids anymore and if they want them, they have to use their own money. An unexpected side effect of this arrangement is that the kids seem to "want" far fewer non-essentials than they ever did before. The older children will sometimes do "big jobs" for which we reimburse modestly: mowing the elderly neighbor's lawn, vacuuming out the cars, helping clean the basement, etc. These are not required jobs and the kids really only ask to do them if they have a bigger item they're trying to save up for.
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
With your dss, I would give him responsibilities when he is with you, and give him some sort of allowance proportional to his time with you and his age. When he is with you for a chunk of time in the summer, increase it. Base it off of what the other kids receive.
Are you serious?! I don't mean to be snarky, or rude, but this just blows my mind.

What a way to set up a "difference" between the kids. With one (the one, btw, that already gets less time in your household) being treated as if his/her belonging *is indeed* proportional on the time they spend. Instead of being a full-fledged member of the household on equal footing with the other kids, but who just happens to also belong to another household and spend time there too.

I was a step kid, with step siblings. I am so grateful that my stepdad never made me feel like I belonged "less" or deserved "less" than his biological kids with my mother because I had to spend less time with them/more time with my biological father.
post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
Allowance is something that is dp's decision. Does he agree with your point of view on things?
I agree that this is my DH's decision, he does agree with my POV and I am trying to get some perspective about what others do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Jene View Post
Yup, same here. My ss isn't here much but when he's here, he participates and helps with the chores my kids do daily. We have "I love you" gifts that we give occasionally and if any of the kids (including dss) wants something big, they do above-and-beyond chores to save up the money for it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
I also agree with UptownZoo. Everyone who lives here (and is old enough) is expected to do their part to keep up the house. DSD lives here half of the time. We have toyed with the idea of giving DSD an allowance (we talked about it around when she started kindergarten and her 5th birthday). It didn't seem like something that she was ready for at that time, so we waited.
<snip>
With your dss, I would give him responsibilities when he is with you, and give him some sort of allowance proportional to his time with you and his age. When he is with you for a chunk of time in the summer, increase it. Base it off of what the other kids receive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mild_adventurer View Post
We decided quite some time ago that we didn't want to be in the position of "rewarding" the kids for simply being good people and good citizens of the household. All of the children (ages 7, 9, 9 and 11) in our household (full or part-time) are expected to contribute to the upkeep of the home without reimbursement. This is what you do when you live with people. The children are expected to do a very reasonable number of chores that are appropriate to their age. If they do not do their chores (which are not onerous and take about 5-10 minutes/day), they lose privilages - video games, visits to friend's houses, etc. Each child is given a small amount of money per week that is not tied to his or her chores. It is with this money that the children are expected to buy most of their non-essentials. It actually works out very well because it has taken the fight out of many situations where whining would rear its ugly head: the ice cream truck, visits to the toy store when we're downtown, video game rental, stickers for the skateboard, etc. We simply do not guy these things for the kids anymore and if they want them, they have to use their own money. An unexpected side effect of this arrangement is that the kids seem to "want" far fewer non-essentials than they ever did before. The older children will sometimes do "big jobs" for which we reimburse modestly: mowing the elderly neighbor's lawn, vacuuming out the cars, helping clean the basement, etc. These are not required jobs and the kids really only ask to do them if they have a bigger item they're trying to save up for.
Ok, so this makes sense and coincides with how I was raised-- you have chores, because you are a member of the family (and we need to give him regular chores, too) and an allowance is separate. So then the failure to do chores results in a loss of privileges, such as computer / video games / etc.
And then "big" tasks can be asked for if the child wants to save for something large.
Mild adventurer, how much allowance do you give your 11 year old?
And I guess if we give allowance, it should be when we see SS, every other weekend? Except when he's with us longer in the summer?
post #13 of 30
I've always given his age in dollars. When he was 11, he got 11 dollars, etc. With the understanding that the frequency of payment was tied to whatever our budget situation is at any given time and stuff. Sometimes it's been every 2 weeks other times it's been every week. Which I think has helped him learn that when times are tight, it's okay to cut back. The sky is not going to fall.
post #14 of 30
Selesai, right now all the children receive $7/week. We occassionally talk about bumping it up to $10, but we haven't yet, because we want to silently encourage them to take on those bigger "paying" tasks when they want to save up for something big. We've never considered paying the kids different amounts and so far no one has asked. Our 11-year old definitely does more of the paying jobs, so in the end, she always has more money at her disposal than the younger ones.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ione View Post
Are you serious?! I don't mean to be snarky, or rude, but this just blows my mind.

What a way to set up a "difference" between the kids. With one (the one, btw, that already gets less time in your household) being treated as if his/her belonging *is indeed* proportional on the time they spend. Instead of being a full-fledged member of the household on equal footing with the other kids, but who just happens to also belong to another household and spend time there too.

I was a step kid, with step siblings. I am so grateful that my stepdad never made me feel like I belonged "less" or deserved "less" than his biological kids with my mother because I had to spend less time with them/more time with my biological father.
I can't speak for the person you responded to, but I assumed she meant they'd pay their part of an allowance. For example, in our case, we pay DSS's allowance on Fridays. So if he with us on a Friday, we pay it, and if he's not with us, it's his mom's allowance week. This is proportional to time spent but I don't think it's unfair or would make him feel "less."
post #16 of 30
My SD receives a generous allowance on each Sunday that she is in our care. (several weeks in the summer, alternating school holidays) Her room must be clean and her personal belongings put away for her to receive her allowance. She is responsible for all snacks, toys, non-essential items or things she needs to be responsible for. For example, this year she left her swimsuit at the hotel so she had to buy a new one with her allowance.

If she leaves her room a mess or her personal belongings astray at the end of the visit, her first allowance on the next visit is docked.

Apart from her allowance, she is expected to contribute to the family upkeep beyond putting her own belongings away. For example, she sets the table, helps Dad clean up after dinner, and helps when asked.

In addition, there is a chore chart list for which she can earn extra money. BEFORE she asks to do a chore (and she has to get preapproval), her room needs to be clean, bed made, and bathroom tidy. Many of the things on the chore chart are part of our regular housework so when she sees me starting to do housework in the summer mornings, she usually wants to help. It is a great "carrot-styled" incentive for her to keep her room and bath tidy first thing in the morning and getting dressed on those lazy no-school days. There is no "partial credit" on chores, either they are done or not. If she does an unsatisfactory job, she has the option to be paid and not asked to do that job again, or correcting herself and continuing to be "hired" for it again in the future.

Written out this all sounds a lot colder than it is in practice. DSD works well with firm and clear expectations so we've adjusted to meet those needs. Our system is a nice compromise between my DH's desire to tie money to work and my desire to emphasize that family pitches in for family regardless of money.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
I can't speak for the person you responded to, but I assumed she meant they'd pay their part of an allowance. For example, in our case, we pay DSS's allowance on Fridays. So if he with us on a Friday, we pay it, and if he's not with us, it's his mom's allowance week. This is proportional to time spent but I don't think it's unfair or would make him feel "less."
That is somewhat different. In what you describe, both households are on the same page that your DSS's allowance is X amount per week, and on the same page as to how to divide that "cost" between the households. And, I assume, far enough on the same page that your DSS is/would be getting that allowance on EQUAL footing (same method of calculation for the child's total allowance) with all of his siblings from both households (irregardless of who pays what to whom).

Quite different than a situation where the child only gets an allowance from one household because only one household gives an allowance, but s/he only spends X% of time in the household so only "deserves" that same % of the allowance that his/her (step)siblings get because they are there 100% of the time.

(The latter is, quite frankly, how the post I responded to came off when I first read it, and how it still comes off now that I've re-read it. I could be wrong, though, since I'm not a mind reader. Which is why I used considerable restraint in replying, BTW.)
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ione View Post
That is somewhat different. In what you describe, both households are on the same page that your DSS's allowance is X amount per week, and on the same page as to how to divide that "cost" between the households. And, I assume, far enough on the same page that your DSS is/would be getting that allowance on EQUAL footing (same method of calculation for the child's total allowance) with all of his siblings from both households (irregardless of who pays what to whom).

Quite different than a situation where the child only gets an allowance from one household because only one household gives an allowance, but s/he only spends X% of time in the household so only "deserves" that same % of the allowance that his/her (step)siblings get because they are there 100% of the time.

(The latter is, quite frankly, how the post I responded to came off when I first read it, and how it still comes off now that I've re-read it. I could be wrong, though, since I'm not a mind reader. Which is why I used considerable restraint in replying, BTW.)
So you would pay allowance to a child on weeks he/she wasn't with you if there were no allowance at the other house?
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
So you would pay allowance to a child on weeks he/she wasn't with you if there were no allowance at the other house?
It would depend on the exact custody schedule, now wouldn't it. I very likely would in all but one situation. (And, for the record, depending on the visitation schedule AND how allowances worked in both households (i.e. whether or not they were coordinated, the ages of ALL the children involved, how much money I had available for allowances overall), I might even go so far as to pay allowance when the child is not with me EVEN IF they get another allowance at the other house too. Perhaps. At the very least, I would consider it very carefully and with an open mind.) Because I know how important it was growing up to never have been made to feel "displaced" or "less than" in either household.

What I would NOT do is calculate the children's allowance* BASED ON TIME SPENT in the household. Especially in split week, alternating weekend, or other frequent, short-term parenting time alternation type situations. (i.e. any schedule that involves time in both households every month or more often)

* Please note, the children's allowance is what the children receive on allowance day, which is not necessarily always exactly what one individual parent pays out over the course of an entire year.

If that means monthly allowances for all, so be it (which is the only form of allowance I had growing up).

If that means bi-weekly allowances, so be it.

If it means the type of arrangement (same allowance in both houses paid alternately by the different households on the same day of the week depending on where the child is) that violet_ described, so be it.

There is some wiggle room in my mind for those visitation schedules involving large distances and large chunks of time (more than a month or two) between visits with no "in person" contact in between...
In which case, the allowance is "the same" while living in one household, but there is not necessarily in my mind a need to mail an allowance check half way across the country every week of the year. (Of course, this automatically makes it proportionate to time spent when looking at the parent's annual allowance budget per kid. But it does NOT give the kid less when he or she is present.)

However, let me re-quote the post I first responded to:
Quote:
With your dss, I would give him responsibilities when he is with you, and give him some sort of allowance proportional to his time with you and his age. When he is with you for a chunk of time in the summer, increase it. Base it off of what the other kids receive.
Emphasis mine.

Please note, as written, this quote is not saying simply: give all kids $X in allowance every Saturday (or whatever day of the week/month allowances are paid on), and give DSS the same when he is with you.

It clearly says to make it proportionate to time spend. AND (here's the kicker) to increase it when he is there for larger chunks of time. The implication of which is that for shorter chunks of time, he will receive less than the other kids on any given week. NOT cool.

Get it?
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
Everyone who lives in this house (full or part time) contributes to the routine maintenance of the home. Nobody gets paid for it. However, kids can be paid for extra or especially onerous chores, and if they want money they are allowed to ask for chores, though pestering us if we say no is not allowed. My house and yard were gorgeous when two of my boys were saving for new bikes!

Everyone who lives in this house also gets a little mad money to use for non-essential treats. We reserve the right to put boundaries around how the children spend the money since we view it as a tool for learning to manage money and save for special things.

Those are our values so that's what we do here. It's different at their other homes but we don't base our decisions about what to do on what they do there.
Same here. We recently had a similar issue as the OP. Dss is 13 and though dh and I work our butts off and are frugle, I felt like dss thought he was rich! He always asked for and received money for everything he wanted to do. One day dh gave him 15 dollars and he went to the store and bought Yughioh cards. Spent the entire 15 dollars and I thought, well, of course he did. He didn't earn it and there will be more as soon as he asks.

A few months ago we started giving him 50 dollars a month. He does his chores (room and trash) and isn't paid for that. His money is his part of our family budget which he uses mostly as he pleases. He uses it for movies, trips with friends, fast food,ect. If he needs more he does work around the house for 10 dollars an hour (usually pretty hard labor, painting, landscaping, weeding,etc.). It seems to be working well. He is actually saving and reconsidering impulse purchases. He also uses some for clothes. For example, I pay $25 for jeans, $12 for t-shirts, $50 for shoes. If he wants more expensive name-brand clothes, he makes up the difference.

He mostly lives here. I know that some money gets lost at mom's and he doesn't get allowance there, she just buys him things, but it really has worked fine.
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