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Catholic Activity: Regular Allowance


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Should parents give allowances to their children? If so, should they place restrictions on how the money should be spent?


Allowances, when a family can afford them, raise another question. Should children be paid for the week's work, or should they receive it in any case? Our feeling about this is that allowances are, in part, a sign of appreciation for co-operating with the work of the entire family. They are also a token share of the family wealth, when there is any wealth to share. But there are certain restrictions as to how they may be spent, what portion should go into the Sunday offering at Mass, and so on. Obligations incurred through carelessness, such as the lost screw driver, a broken window which resulted from playing ball in the house, must be paid for out of allowance money. They are encouraged to share their allowances with the poor, sending some off to the missions or to some particular family that we know is in need. Such things as second-hand wheels needed for homemade jalopies, material and pattern for a skirt, seeds for planting one's special stand of corn, are bought with allowance money. And of course there are weeks when things are very tight, and there is no money for allowances at all; then everyone goes without.

Then there is the problem of the child nearby who does not have to do any work. "Why doesn't she, and why do I?" This is not always easy to handle. In the face of a living example of someone who is quite happy without having to do any work, all the high-minded theory seems to break down. The value of training in work, the joy of service, the serving God, are attractive ideas until someone else is waiting outside to play while you have still to wipe the dishes and feed the baby. But they are the answer, just the same. It is hard to apply them to this situation without seeming to make ignoble comparisons, and we must not do that. We have found the most convincing persuasions to be loyalty to the family cause (we all need to do our share so that the family will be happy and things go smoothly) and using the work for a heroic intention.

"Remember the children in Korea, who need your prayers and your love. Remember our missionaries who are trying to do so much with so little. It won't take long to do these few dishes, and then you may play. Do them for the love of children who have no homes to work in, no lovely outdoors where they may play, who do not even have dishes to wash or the food to put on them."

Inviting the guest in to wait, or, if she wishes, to help, often solves the problem. Indeed, children who do not have to work at home frequently discover that it is fun to help at the home of someone who does.

Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961

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