So I have two kids- aged six and nine as I write this today. Like most parents I’ve thought a lot about how to best teach my kids about the things I’ve learned and their parents views on things. Unlike my own upbringing, we decided that teaching them could never take the form of beatings or spankings and that simply exposing them to learning experiences would be better than constant lectures and rules.
One neat area that came up pretty quick due to our farm and rural lifestyle was “how do we properly compensate the kids for all the hard work they do around here?”
As far as most kids go, my kids have it pretty rough- I mean there are animals to feed, beds to be made, animals to water, hooves to trim, wool to keep clean, dishes to do, floors to sweep, coal to shovel, ashes to go out…
A lot of parents would look at these little humans as “free labor”, which is just a fancy word for a “slave”. That won’t work in our voluntaryist household.
A lot of parents would pay an “allowance”. But what is that? Nothing sets a kid up better in my opinion for a life time of welfare than a regular payment compliments of the “big brother/big mother” of the house. We don’t like “welfare words” around here.
In my house, we co-own a lot of stuff, like the animals. The sheep we co-own with each other. The goats belong to my nine year old. The hogs are mine. A person’s room is their property, but my wife and I co-own the flooring and walls. Figuring out who owns what establishes responsibility. Private property, when it is established and respected, is the basis for a healthy and productive society- so why not a household as well?
If my children want to make money for either spending or saving, they make it exactly like their parents do. I advertise different jobs I need doing around the house or the kids come to me with ideas of something that should be done. We discuss what it will “look like” to have it done (or not) and then we negotiate a price for the services. At first prices swung wildly with both the kids competing against each other for the work and trying to “out bid” the other but before long, cooperation and specialization began to occur.
One kid started making both beds so that the other would help with the goats she owned, and the younger one was too little to shovel the “animal products” over the fence into the trailer so he subcontracted that out. There are just a handful of examples, but you get the idea.
Payday is the best of all. How this works is the kids prepare invoices for the old man for the work they’ve done that week. So why other kids are learning which Pokemon beats the others (or whatever the other kids are up to these days) my kids are learning how to run their own businesses. They know about bidding, invoicing, and management. Right now they don’t have a very broad customer base, just the other people who live in the house, but they have a good basis of how things really work.
When they are getting paid, I give them three different options-
1) Get paid in fiat dollars. They pick this one if they want to buy something immediately.
2) Get paid in junk silver coins. They always end up with a few of these because some invoices include my bills down to tenths of ounces I owe them. Other times they want to be paid in all junk just because they want their “pokes” to get bigger quicker.
3) Get paid in bullion. They really like those silver Buffalo coins, Chinese Pandas, and Perth Mint’s Kangaroos. Anything with animals on them. Of course, my son apparently has a “thing” for Queen Elizabeth II and goes for anything that has her on it.