Should parents give kids an allowance? This indeed is a great question and with any great question there are differing points of view. There is certainly a need of stewardship and teaching children how to use money wisely… but is the giving of allowance the way to do that? In this post I will identify the biblical position and equip the reader with what is needed to make an informed decision for their children.
A pattern to follow
This, as any biblical lesson, must be premised off the fact that the parents have accepted Christ as their saviour. To try to teach Godly principles yet not be Godly is an exercise in futility that will create unnecessary grief. For many years, biblical concepts were used as a guide to raise children; even being used “without God” and were called morals. This technique of forcing Godly obedience without a Godly example has often created resentment for the word of God because it was administered without the power of God.
I encourage parent that if you are reading this looking for a better way to raise your kids and you are not saved; to stop reading and click here to learn of God’s simple salvation. Start with a firm foundation in which to build from.
I must also emphasize that that there is a difference between being a “saved” and being a “Christian”. There are many today that: 2 Timothy 3:5a Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: … In short, not practicing what they preach. As Christians we must have the Bible as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice, which is our guide and pattern to follow. To mingle the world’s philosophies with Bible doctrine is the recipe to create a disobedient, confused child who will not know as to which premise a parent might approach from. God’s word has everything we need to have a fruitful Christian life. If Gods command for a parent is to raise their children in the nurture in the admonition of the Lord then He has in His word what is needed to be able to accomplish it.
The Root of the problem
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
We are going to reflect this article with the understanding first that allowance money is given for compensation for chores (which is most common) we will deal with allowance as a metered gift later in this article. 1 Timothy 6:10 identifies why money, in principle and by definition, is the root of the problem. As parents we are to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; stewardship is very much a part of that charter.
Traditional forms of giving an allowance or wage for chores can easily teach children more about money than the sacrifice and service. This knowledge can create a need and craving that ignites a flame that burns slowly at first, but quickly grows as they begin to compare themselves to the world and find themselves wanting. I have seen so many instances while out shopping where a parent says no to a child that wants something, only to hear them exclaim they will simply buy it themselves in direct defiance. So the love of money and the evil intentions it can create in a spiritually immature child must be considered when making a responsible choice about giving an allowance.
What’s my motivation?
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Obedience and servitude comes down to a condition of the heart. We teach children to obey when they are young with a reward/ punishment system as a way to motivate them; with hopes that as they mature, their motives will be that they choose to obey. Much of the child’s life will be spent balancing this effort, weighing punishment with the action. Biblically this principle is consistent; when we are in obedience with God He blesses us spiritually and sometimes physically/ materially… yet in disobedience He withholds His blessing.
As we examine, as parents, whether or not the giving of allowance is something we should participate in we should consider the motivation and the end results as well. Do you want to give your children a love of money? or a love for serving? What becomes their motivation? The Lord desires His children to obey; but more, obey with gladness. As parent we should desire the same. Our desire is to instill in our children that Godly principle of servitude and gladness. When we substitute the gladness with a monetary reward… then money becomes their motivation.
1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
Attitude (condition of the heart)
Having and teaching obedience and submission is more about attitude than the act of obeying. Take a look at these verses:
Psalms 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Deuteronomy 26:16 This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Joshua 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
Psalms 119:60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
Matthew 21:28-31 speaks of good intentions between sons and how they obeyed… It comes down to attitude and compliance. As we teach our children to obey we must be very perceptive about the attitude in which they obey. Keep in mind our children look to us to set an example… so our attitude when serving God must be right as well.
Workplace thinking (reverse analysis)
We work as adults to get a paycheck. I know of very few people who love work so much that they would just do so without compensation. The money IS our motivation, and we weigh what we do based on such. One may say $8 an hour is good for working fast food, but is inadequate for being an SEO of a large company. We weigh what we are willing to do based on the compensation. Now we may enjoy what we do as a profession but let’s be reasonable, if the employer said on Monday that you were not going to get paid for working; you wouldn’t be there on Tuesday.
Let’s now apply this concept to children getting an allowance as a wage for chores. If we are teaching them the value of money, that it holds a just compensation for workmanship, then the things that kids do around the home should be weighed accordingly. The child should then get to choose whether they want to obey based on the compensation. Their motivation to “obey your parents in the Lord” becomes “obey your parents to get paid.” Their motivation is moved from the spiritual blessings to the physical/ monetary gain.
The tragedy of this is where fathers are directed not to provoke a child to wrath, yet many times parents will withhold allowance from the child or even take monies earned away as punishment while forcing them to obey. This hypocrisy will provoke a child to wrath quite quickly, not to mention create resentment toward the system and never truly be able to trust the circumstances.
For the most part stewardship in the Bible deals with what we do with what God has GIVEN us, not what we have earned.
1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
While there is a place for parent to teach stewardship in the area of money, it should not be attached to labor. Children should be taught that obedience is pleasing to the Lord, wanting to do so because they love their parents. This motivation, rather than money, will help them understand why, as adults, we choose to obey God. We do not obey God (or shouldn’t) for a paycheck… but rather because of our Love for God.
How to teach children stewardship of money in the real world.
Trying to teach a six year old to be a good steward of money is a task that will frustrate any parent. Not only will you not be able to show them a good example of why, they simply don’t understand things like rent, electric, groceries, ect. I recall when My oldest daughter was six years old I told her we were out of money… she said “let’s just go get more from the magic box on the wall!” Meaning of course the ATM machine. Using the pattern of the scriptures we know that people… grow; this is why we have different grades in school, 1st graders simply can not understand the things taught in the 12 grade. Understanding this we must use caution exposing children to something so powerful as money before they are ready to handle it.
As an example, I sit down with my children, now that they are teenagers, and teach them the things of being an adult (14 and up) and show them the bills of the home. To show them why dad always tells them to “turn off the lights!” They are mature enough to understand where the money comes from, how it’s spent and how to be a good steward of it. They learn spending habits from their parents setting the example, rather that giving them the burden of having to spend the money they have received in a way that would be pleasing to the parent.
Over a time the children will begin to understand that a Father with a generous heart (in the example of our heavenly Father) will give unto his children some of the increase of where they were helpful in saving money for the home. This family spending understanding, rather than individual increase, will help bring a unity in the home in the area of monetary stewardship.
Stewardship (a better understanding)
It is important to also acknowledge that everything is God’s and we are simply stewards of it. (Psalm 24:1, Haggai 2:8, Exodus 19:5) Whether it be money, property or time God expects and teaches us through His word how to be good stewards, then to pass that down to our children by example.
There are many passages that deal with the area of stewardship or “what to do with others money or property”. The principle of stewardship is rooted on responsibility and faithfulness… not directly on money. In the bible we see that monetary stewardship is not how we spend our “own” money but rather how we handle the masters money or property.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
In the story that Jesus gave in Matthew 25: 14-30 deals with a master giving money unto his servants.
Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Continue reading… click here
In this account the Master does not appear to be paying them a wage but rather giving them money for them to invest based on their ability. This is seen later in the passage where he punishes the third for not investing and growing his money. If it was a wage then there should have no punishment for not investing. This passage teaches us about the stewardship of the MASTERS money… and not that of the servant.
Note also the scriptures speaking about stewardship of time:
Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
How we spend the time that God gives us is as much about Godly stewardship as money. Many times in the scriptures God teach us what to do with the TIME He has given us rather than the MONEY…. why? Because money is the root of all evil. Money should not be the motivator for our stewardship but rather more what we do with our time. How we teach our children should be after that same pattern.
God provides us with the ability to earn money. We use that same concept to teach our children our ways and skills to do the same. A carpenter’s son will usually become a carpenter himself. Again a pattern to follow of setting the example for your children.
Deuteronomy 8:17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
So the question comes, how do I implement this concept? First parents must understand that there are several levels to this; for example, are the children currently getting an allowance or not? Allow me to explain in the following:
If your children are not currently getting an allowance then ask yourself if you are teaching them the concepts of obedience and the spiritual rewards. Focusing them on the motivation for obedience as outlined earlier in this article. Then framing the discussion and setting the example of good monetary stewardship as the child gets older.
As a correction
If, however, children are currently getting an allowance then steps must be made to determine the results of stopping that system. It is a natural fact that if you take away something worldly from the child it must be replaced with something spiritual; otherwise satan will fill that void with resentment, anger and disobedience. So if the children are 10 and up, it may be very difficult to reverse that course if the signs of that root of evil are present; but it can be done. Children are wiser, at times, more than parents give them credit for. If parents want to truly try and reverse the course that money has in corrupting children through allowance then the parent must first sit down with the child (children) and explain the concerns. Give children Bible verses and reinforce the parents role to raise the children after the Lord.
Then the parent will need to replace the monetary with the spiritual giving them positive encouragement and love every step of the way. The parents here will need to work 3 times harder than the child to make sure they are being the proper example for their children. This fact must be clearly understood; children will take the queue from the parents. If you believe that that teaching your children this path of obedience is good, then you must provide them a Godly example to follow. In this course, you can see victory.
Grounds for allowance
Earlier in this article I mentioned that the giving of allowance should not be given in the condition of a wage for chores within the home. So where can this be implemented and not be contrary to the word of God? First the statement of “within the home”; there are many ways for a child to make some money to lay up in store, one would be outside the home. Giving children an external avenue to practice the work ethic that has been instilled is a good thing. Allowing a child to work at a neighbor or elderly person’s home and rake leaves, babysit or clean-up. Monetary gifts are also a way that a child could have money to spend; from a parent or grand-parent with no strings attached. Note: The spending should not necessarily be force directed. Use the example you set in responsible spending to help guide the child into good spending habits. If the child is following your example then there will be no issue with the child tithing, giving an offering to God and toward the home. I have oft been blessed at the fruit of my children when they desire to spend their earnings from babysitting and mowing for things within the home.
An Example to follow
Parenting is, for all practical definitions, setting an example to follow. It is foolish to think a child will turn out mild tempered if the parent is not; it is foolish to expect a child to turn out Godly if the parent is not. Rather than trying to correct our faults in our children, perhaps we should look to God to correct the faults in ourselves.
2 Corinthians 13:5a Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves…
We, as good parents, desire to keep our children away from evil things… but so many parents want to give children that, which is by definition, is the root of all evil to a child that is not spiritually prepared to handle it. We surely would not take that same thinking when it comes to other evils such as sex, drugs, alchohol and violence would we? Of course not. So we must teach proper spending habits by example just as we would teach them any other trait… by giving them the proper example to follow.