Several months ago in this post, I discussed how we had started what we call the Family Economy. For the most part, this had been going very well. But, for whatever reason, after a couple weeks off over Christmas, the whole thing had pretty much fallen apart.
Another thing that seems to have happened after our Christmas school break, is that internet usage has gotten completely out of control by not only the older boys but by the younger ones as well. I hadn’t realized how much they were asking to play on the computer or my phone until I said no, and I was witness to the ensuing fit.
I partly blame myself for this. I became pretty lazy about checking to make sure the boys were doing what they said they were, and there were a few cases of cheating the system by the kids which resulted in them losing pay for periods of time as a result. But as I said, after Christmas, this became much more pronounced and a lot worse.
I also blame myself for the internet usage, especially with the younger boys. Of course it’s easy to say yes when a kid wants to amuse himself with something, but shouldn’t I be more picky with what that something is? I realized this yesterday when both my 6 and 11 year olds said they had nothing to do, even though they have a room stocked with legos, kinex, and other toys.
So today, when I saw that again the stairs hadn’t been vacuumed, the entryway cleaned up, shoes kicked off against the wall leaving a muddy trail, leaves all over the basement floor from the back entrance (we live in a raised ranch so there’s one of those handy/not easy to keep clean stairwells in the back), the 6 year old asked me to play on my phone the minute he woke up, and my 15 year old hadn’t pulled himself away from his computer for the last week, well, let’s just say I’d had enough.
As far as the chores are concerned, the Family Economy is pretty serious stuff to me. My kids get tired of hearing me say it, but by the time I was my 11 year old’s age (he’ll be 12 in a couple of months), I was working very long, full time days for my parents every summer, over school breaks, and after school (when we were needed) until I was 20. It wasn’t easy work either. I remind them that their uncle was 9 and turned 10 shortly after we started working. To me, the Family Economy is the best way to teach them that a good job and work = payment and shirking work and responsibility leads to no pay and no extras.
I find it ridiculous that kids are trusted driving thousands of pounds of cars and trucks (in Iowa a child can get a school permit at 14.5 years old-yes to drive to school without supervision) but the government feels it isn’t a good idea for them to work before they’re 16. But, that’s another rant for another day.
So back to me being a bitch. I called a family meeting with the kids today and informed them of the following:
- Their lack of follow-through with their jobs hadn’t gone unnoticed and because I hadn’t made any notes on exactly what hadn’t been done, they would all be receiving half pay for the week.
- From here on out, if their chores were not completed, there would be no pay, but the boys older than 12 would still be responsible for half of their shoes and clothing as was the original deal. They’d have to figure out how that was going to work.
- The one son who’s making payments for his computer (we fronted him some money to purchase it) will have to cash in his CD to repay the loan immediately if he stops getting paid or he will forfeit his computer as was the agreement.
- Internet usage is being cut immediately. The children will be allowed two hours of internet in the morning to complete their schooling. After their chores are completed, they will be granted one more hour to be used on the computer or their phones.
- Playstation time during the week will be awarded for extra work done without payment and will be allowed on the weekends at our discretion.
- Computers and phones will be left upstairs and their usage will be monitored.
I was surprised at the reaction I received from one of my sons. Actual tears were shed over the internet being limited. He argued that he doesn’t have any friends here, which has been a constant struggle for all of us since we moved (even when the boys were in public school). For whatever reason, we just don’t seem to fit in very well.
My solution to that was to challenge the boys with finding a group, club, or class that they could be involved in outside the home. One has said he’d like to join 4-H, one has said he’d like to take swimming lessons, and one wants a class at the Y.
I also asked them each to list 3 things that they’d like to improve on, and was surprised to receive well thought out responses.
Regardless of the positive spin of improvement and community involvement I tried to place on our family meeting, I did get the ‘You’re a bitch.’ look from two of my kids.
I constantly tell my kids that I’m their biggest fan, but even their biggest fan will make rules that they won’t like and won’t agree with. There will be times they’re convinced they hate me.
My job as their parent is to raise 4 well-mannered, intelligent, compassionate, disciplined, responsible, and hard working men…not to coddle them the entire time they’re under our roof. I see too many children reaching adulthood without a clue as to what responsibility means not to mention how to be independent..
My dad has told me, “No one said being a parent was going to be easy,” and of course he’s right. And that’s why, today, my kids think I’m a bitch and I’m okay with it. Sometimes parenting is a really sucky job, but someone has to do it.