An Argument Against Chore Charts

My dear girl Becky has her deepest hearts hopes set upon saving enough money to buy this year's American Girl of the Year Doll, Chrissa.

She's a very pretty doll; take a look for yourself:

Chrissa also has a movie out on DVD based on the book that comes with her. It deals with girl bullying, the nastiest and most psychological form of bullying there is, IMHO.

I'm all for Becky saving her money up to buy this doll; she's already at $32 saved. She doesn't know it yet, but when she has half the money saved, her mom will spring for the other $48.

Becky, Huck, and Tom all get an allowance - a small monthly one based on their ages - which is more for the purpose of teaching them about the value of money and the importance of saving than for any other reason. Both Becky and Huck know they can spend some of their money on little toys or treats - or, like last summer - games at our church's festival.

But, in the rapture of wishing and hoping for the Chrissa doll to be hers, Miss Becky has been asking more and more for odd jobs to do for a little more money.

This is fine with both Knute and I; it is, after all, springtime. There's more than enough work to do around here. Becky is happy to get her hands extra dirty with whatever task we put her to if it means earning an extra $2 or $3.

I have, however, decided after much thinking that I won't be making a regular chore chart for her or her brothers. I've never had one here, per se. The closest I came was creating a "Super Star" chart which was more about catching the kids doing something extra good or extra kind, especially in their dealings with each other. For every star they earned, I gave them a nickel or a dime.

But the idea of a specific "Chore Chart" bugs me. The kids all know that we expect them to do their part in keeping up with their stuff - pulling up their covers (I don't care if the bed looks like Martha Stewart made it, just make the effort, m'kay?), picking up their rooms, cleaning up the basement (our main toy zone), clearing their plates, and just generally contributing for the good of all.

And that's the bottom line for me -- the good of all. We're a family; if something needs done or someone needs help, we all pitch in and do our part to get the work done until it's done. Do Knute and I carry most of the weight? Well, yeah, I mean the kiddos are only 7,5, and 3. But we set that expectation and hold them to it that they will do what they can to help because it's the right thing to do, not because they're getting a gold star or a shiny new quarter for the effort.

I want my kiddos to grow up motivated to act and to do good for others for the right reasons.

Somehow, I don't think that will happen if they're always trying to solve for X in the equation of what's in this for ME?

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