false truisms - money

I have a hard time with just handing money to my children for no reason what so
ever on a regular basis. I feel it teaches....

The trouble with focusing on teaching is that it ignores what and how people
really learn. There's a grand parenting myth that in order for children to learn
what's right and good, you have to be stern and strong, put your foot down, make
them work for it, make them prove they're worthy. The marvelous thing about
unschooling is you get to see that none of that is really true. You actually Can
be sweet and kind and generous and gracious to your kids without "teaching" them
to be rotten little monsters who don't give a crap about anyone but themselves.
I'll repeat the important part of that:

It's Okay to Be Nice to your Children! It won't ruin them for life.

just handing money to my children for no reason

Generosity is a reason and a darned good one. Kids don't become "spoiled" by an
abundance of generosity, they grow bitter when attention and care are replaced
with things.

I also do not pay them to do the regular chores around the house ... as a
family we all have to contribute to things.

Why did you have children? If it was to make more workers for your family
economy, then your philosophy is perfectly consistent and reasonable (and this
is why unschooling doesn't work in some environments - if children are necessary
to the financial solvency of a community it is not possible to unschool).

But if you have the luxury of valuing your children other reasons - for their
love of life, their fascination with the world, their personalities and
uniqueness, then they are already contributing to your family and your life. You
don't Have To make them earn anything else - they've already succeeded in
enriching your world.

Probably, you're thinking in terms of teaching, though, and getting stuck there.
It seems reasonable that you have to teach children to be good workers, because
they don't start out that way... except that's not the case. They Do start out
motivated and well able to learn what they need... until teaching sabotages
their learning, interrupting what they care to learn until mindless, silly tasks
are accomplished. Over time, without being taught or required to "contribute"
kids do discover the value of some of those mindless, silly tasks and start to
take them on - they Voluntarily begin to help. That's a consistent finding
across families that don't require "contributions" but are open to them.
Openness matters, for sure! Homes where kids are not Permitted to contribute are
different matters - and those are often the homes people point to when they say:
see these kids weren't made to help and they're helpless. They weren't "not
made" they were "not allowed".

I guess for me it is important for my children to know that money is earned

But it isn't always earned - and certainly money is not always earned in
proportion to work. People receive money from trusts, insurance, investments,
inheritance, spouses, grants, and gifts. And there are people who work for no
money or very little compared to what they do.

There's no correlation between making kids sing for their supper and a strong
work ethic. The laziest, most money-grubbing people I've met were raised doing
work for their parents and taught that money had to be earned. Some of the most
generous people I've met were raised with no expectations they "contribute to
the family". Which isn't to say that chores will necessarily ruin your kids -
teaching isn't learning no matter how you slice it. What kids learn from
parental expectations is personal - some will learn they are valued as good
workers, others will learn that work sucks and it's better to bilk the system
for every penny.

and that it is not easy always

This is another fantastically huge parenting myth: that it's somehow possible
for kids to learn that life is easy and they can have anything they want. There
is not a shred of reality in that myth. Really, you could bend over backwards
saying yes to everything all day long and kids would still run into a hundred
roadblocks, frustrations and disappointments. The sun will go down no matter how
hard you wish otherwise. It rains on picnics. Squirrels eat the tulips, the deer
fail to show up not matter how long you wait, and the hummingbirds eventually
fly off until next year. People get tired and are uncooperative. Bodies change
and old things no longer fit. Beloved toys and blankets wear out and fall apart.
Life is so full of hardship and disaster that parents don't need to add a single
"no" for kids to figure that out... usually by age 2. It's that obvious.

And - and! it's impossible to say yes even to all the things which are
theoretically possible. Parents aren't always as capable, creative, and have
enough energy for everything (although we're often better than we think,
especially with practice!). Parents aren't perfect - they're human beings! And
that's really fine because so are children. Never, every worry that a child will
grow up thinking life is easy.

One of the fascinating aspects of radical unschooling is getting to see the
biggest parenting "have tos" proved wrong. You don't have to be stern and hard
for their benefit, you don't have to teach them life is hard, you don't have to
teach them the benefit of work - you don't have to teach anything at all. You
can live with them as friends - you the more together, capable friend who is
graciously offering your resources to your less informed, less capable friend
who needs a lot of help for awhile. What a great friend to be! What a great
friend to have! I didn't get that good of a friend as a child, so I'm finding it
a special honor to get to be one. It's marvelous.

I also think that it is so important to learn to wait for something.

Delayed gratification is one of the many things adults think comes from teaching
which is actually developmental - and like anything developmental that means
some people learn it much sooner than others, based on unique qualities. When
kids are required to wait too often and for too long, some of them learn to be
resigned, some to be resentful, some that they aren't worthy, some that when
they grow up it will be their turn to make Others wait. A lot of that will have
to do with personality.

What you can do is set kids up to succeed and don't make them wait for things
unnecessarily when you can avoid it and help kids wait gracefully - either by
helping them find a distraction or commiserating gently and supporting their
emotions. Which one is more appropriate will depend on the child and situation.

My point is that in general my kids know that money just buys things and we
really do not need all those things to survive and be happy!

Yes, kids can learn things like that even in conventional parenting situations,
if parents are generous and engaged in other ways. Being generous and engaged
are the big things - and that's good to know if you're daunted by these crazy
radical ideas that kids can learn grace and thoughtfulness and responsibility
without being taught.

As with any situation, I think talking, talking, talking with your children
and really with them and not at them is the most important tool to helping them
see where you are coming from.

This is a piece of advice that works so well for some families and is utterly
disastrous for others. What Is important is creating an environment where
communication is open and flows both ways, but how that happens Rarely involves
lots of talking. When it does, it's a personality thing.

A big part of what makes communication work is actually stepping back from
trying to get someone else to see your point of view and considering theirs -
and that's all the more important when "they" are children. There is development
to consider and the innate power differential between a parent and a child. So
it is all the more important that parents can see a child's perspective if they
want to open up the lines of communication.

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