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This is National Educational Television, a program distributed by the Educational Television and Radio Center. We decided it would be fun to talk today about allowances and duties and whether allowances and duties should be tied closely together or how much they should be separated. We have four mothers today and they come and link between them is that they all went to Allegheny College.
Mrs. Hamilton, Mrs. Elts, Mrs. Kerna and Mrs. Ransford. I got almost through. All four of these mothers have daughters who are six years of age. Three of the mothers have sons who are older in the 9 or 10 year old period, but Mrs. Kerna doesn't have that older son. She has the son younger. He's two years old. Mrs. Hamilton, why don't you bring up the first question about allowances? Well, I think that one of the things that has always bothered me about allowances has been that there's a problem of how much the allowance should be, whether it should be enough to give the child a little bit of freedom in the amount of money the child has to spend. You don't want to give a child too much money so that they have money to squander and yet you want to give them an opportunity.
You don't want them to be richer than the parents. You want to give them an opportunity to learn to use the money in the right way, in the proper way. And then that ties in, of course, with the duties that they should perform around home of their own free will as it were in return for that allowance. How much they should be paid over and above that allowance for extra duties that they do, whether they should be paid at all. My own impression is that nobody has found the perfect solution for this and certainly there's no one solution that I've ever heard of that works for all families. I'd love to hear what different ones of you have tried. Mrs. Kerna, do you want to... Well, so far, just without a little girl, we have tried them say a certain amount, for instance, a quarter a week, which she has to spend as she sees fit, except we do specify that if she wants to buy a war stamp or saving stamp at school, that she does take her dime out of that. Now, her Sunday school money, her daddy takes care of above the weekly allowance.
Is she committed to a war stamp every month? Now, usually she takes one every week. Now, sometimes if she has received an extra dollar, say from, as a gift, maybe a store or maybe a good report card. Sometimes she herself, she likes to see the stamps building up in the book and will say, well, I'd like to take a dollar or maybe she'll get 50 cents and she will buy extra. As long as there's money still in the bank, she's willing to go ahead, you see. But so far, we haven't gotten into the payment of for duties yet. Now, that perhaps somebody else has worked out. I'd like to hear... Let's talk first about allowances and then get to the duties afterwards, because I think this is an enormous and somewhat separate problem. Is Rance for what about you? Well, our boy gets 75 cents a week and our daughter gets 55 cents a week because she's younger and we feel that she doesn't need as much money. Out of that, they have to pay their...
Did she feel discriminated against her 55 cents? No, no. She's very happy to be getting 55 cents. That's a lot of money to her. And out of that, they have to pay their church money and Chip has to pay his boy scout dues. Anytime they want to go to the movies, that comes out of their allowance. All movies. All movies come out of their allowance, uh-huh. And... There are no special family trips to the movies. Well, all family trips, that's different. That is different. Yes, that's different. But if they go with some of the neighborhood children, that comes out of their allowance. They've managed to save a lot of their money through their allowances. And all Chip, for example, who is 11, has saved enough that he's going to buy this life magazine. The world we live in, the Encyclopedia that's coming out. And that's not enough. We just got that... I think that's a marvelous thing. That was reprints of that whole series on the world. It sounds to me so far as if these kids are maybe better organized, saving lives than parents. Yes, I think so.
Some sets of kids who are saving money on an income of 25 cents, 55 and 75. Results, what about allowances in your family? Well, we tried to set allowances for quite a while, but we felt that when they were little six, seven and eight, that allowances should, in a way, be tied in with duties around the home. But if they got allowances, they should also do some chores around the house that would tie in with it. Well, when we gave regular allowances, we weren't getting anything in return. So we thought we'd try another system. We dropped the allowances all together and worked out a system of kind of pay-as-you-go, a ticket system. We have a drawer in the kitchen with a ticket senate. And there's some tickets that are worth two cents, and there's three cents on other tickets, four cents, and they go up to five cents. And that includes two cents for setting the table, three cents for drying the dishes, five cents for making their beds, four cents for running the sweeper, something like that. And when they can do as many of these duties in a day as they feel like doing, and if they don't seem to want the money, then that's up to them. They don't have to do anything.
But does this, does the incentive of the money keep the math that duties a reasonable amount of cash? It does, it does, and then they take their tickets as they do these things and save them and then cash them in on Saturday night, which has worked pretty well. Do I gather from all of you that the allowance is always broad enough to take care of certain regular obligations like church, voice scouts, but it still leaves something left over. I think that's a fair general principle. I've known a few families who gave just enough allowance to cover such things as church, Sunday school, school paper, something like that, and my own feeling is that this isn't really an allowance and doesn't teach very much. That is, if the parents are really pretending to give something to be used freely and there's no freedom in a tall, though I think it gives a little sense of responsibility to a child to be spending, even for those obligatory things. I think it loses two-thirds of the point of allowance, which is to have the feeling of making some choice about it just so.
When I had an engineering experience the other day, my little girl took some money to school with her and she came home with a package which I wasn't to see because she had bought something for me for Mother's Day and for her daddy for Father's Day. She had just gone to the corner store and had bought, as it so happened that we found out what they were a little early because we had to need a little Hershey's sauce for ice cream one night and we had run out. So she ran to the bag and that was what she had bought me and so we had the sauce a little previously. The Mother's Day occasion and then she had bought her daddy a toothbrush. I don't know how we happened to get that in the mirror. She had taken her own money, you see, to buy these things and at Christmas she has bought some of her Christmas gifts, in some cases if she has picked out a teddy bear for the baby that is a little more than she can handle, then daddy has helped out. But generally she has helped out on these various occasions to buy these gifts with her own money. We didn't, I didn't ask about it and none of the rest of you mentioned gifts to birthday presents for the rest of the family come out of this or to you all find it's necessary to subsidize those.
Kind of subsidize those. Well now for Easter Chip came home just delighted with a little peep for his sister and he had bought that for her as a gift. And at Christmas time they did all their vine for mother, daddy and sister all brother with money they had saved with their allowances. I think this is part of the fun of having money of your own if you're in a reasonably loving family is the fun of giving presents. I think sometimes we get confused about our morality and think that giving gifts is really an obligation. I'm not fun but I certainly remember from my own child the fun of choosing Christmas presents I got little enough money so they all had to come from the five and ten. And my next younger sister who is very shrewd using money I remember she had a system of getting aluminum cups from the Huitina company that she'd get with five. She had three buying five sets and she got a paper bag full of cheap.
I start to say caramel candy I don't think it was caramel taffy or something like that which was obviously very inexpensive and she stuffed each aluminum cup with about five of these candies wrapped up in paper. And I think that she did the whole family it was a big family two parents and six kids she did the whole family on about forty forty five sets. But it literally is true that the value of the gift certainly isn't important to the parents and I do think that this is part of the fun of having money is to give to people around that you love. So I think that there's I think you're right that you often have to subsidize if the child wants something for a brother or sister or parent that's more expensive. I think it's quite legitimately quite legitimate to add to it but I think it's good to have the allowance include at least part of the gift. We found that the children seem to place a higher value on the money that they earn than when we were just giving it to them each week.
I think that's right. Now I was just going to say I don't know whether that's right or not for myself that whether that was the right approach whether as Cara said we should. The way they do just given allowance each week course chip is older and I think as they get older and allowance is a must. The social obligations and the entertainment all become more and more and more. That's right. The movies are not important at six but certainly by nine you absolutely must be seeing the important movies that your friends are seeing. This is a part of social life it isn't it isn't just pleasure like adults reading books or anything else. I was going to say perhaps we might combine the two a little bit say there might be a minimum allowance and then for these some of the extra jobs they might be able to earn extra money. Now just a small case was as I mentioned a little earlier off the program that our little girl would watch the smaller brother for maybe just even five or ten minutes while I had some particular chore to do and I couldn't watching.
And I would say well if you take care of Paul for five or ten minutes that you may have a nickel land and then she would put that aside as part of her Christmas savings. But that was just the one thing so far that we had found to to pay her for. Now so far we hadn't gotten into the paying before they setting the table or been making but to say the others have older children they may have found that system to work out you say better than we have. Before we get into the duties I wanted to ask the question whether any of you felt it was important to find out what the neighborhood allowance level is before you set it yourself. Do you think that's of any importance? I think it probably wouldn't be I haven't found out however. I think most parents started a quarter and don't worry too much. I think it stays a quarter for a long time. Well I was going to say we have an unusual situation with our boy.
His allowance sounds terribly large it's two dollars and a quarter a week which sounds terrific but out of that he pays for his own lunch at school which is 25 cents. When I pack his lunch then he pays me. Then he goes to the Y on Saturdays and he pays for his lunch down there and his car fare down and back unless somebody takes him down. So the trips that they take down there he pays for too. They went downtown last week to Senorama Holiday and he paid for that. So the allowance really isn't as large when it boils down to the fact that he buys everything his Sunday school and junior church money and his stamps. In the end he has about 30 cents a week which he has for himself free and clear. I can he stay that well organized through the week so that he has something to buy lunch with on Friday I think this is quite impressive.
He does seem to stay well organized for lunch money I can't say that extra 30 cents is always available. It seems to go to the popsicle man or somebody else like that but he does seem to keep he knows that he has to have it. I haven't reached the point yet where he hasn't had the money and it was a question of not having lunch. And he ever gone without lunch just to say no. No, he never has done that. I think he likes to eat too. I think that there's a strong temptation to keep some control and keep watch over a situation like that. I do think myself that this is the thing for the parent to try to hold back on as much as possible is not to keep nosing into it or asking him. Wait a minute do you think you can afford that because then I think it really is the parents planning that it's not only no planning experience for the child. The whole thing that comes obnoxious to him you know and this is one of the one of the things that makes you want to get absolutely foolish with your money is to get around somebody who's always trying to tell you to do something.
But I admit that there's always the temptation since you know that the child is not completely responsible or completely mature. There's always a strong temptation in the parent to keep an eye on it or to keep asking. Do you think that six and seven year olds for example should if they get a quarter should spend that quarter anyway they see fit. I think that this really should be a matter for the parents as well as for somebody like me a professional on the outside to decide because I think that basically it's what the parents feel is right is what they have to be doing. And if they take advice from somebody else that doesn't really click with what they'd like to do I think that they either don't follow the advice or if they follow it they follow it with the wrong spirit and it doesn't work. So I think it should be up to the parents whether it's going to be absolutely free spending money or whether part of it should be understood is reserved at the time the allowance arrangement is made with the child.
The only thing I feel is important is that all of it shouldn't be committed to some worthwhile business that the child should have some leeway. And you have to give them enough so that they have something that they can build toward for instance if they want to buy a shovel or something of that sort so that within a reasonable amount of time they can save the money for that. That's impossible. They lose all the bags. That's right. If the goal is two years away why you can't expect any six or eight or ten year old to stick by it I think that's right. You're going to soon decide they might just as well spend it for something that they don't really want as much. We found the other day in town I think that little girls particularly when they have little pocketbooks like to have some money jingling around and I found that the last trip to town I was reading lunch at horns. And Linda wanted to leave the tip. Well I didn't feel that she should have to leave the full amount but she did want to put down four little pennies and she did and she seemed to get a big kick out of helping pay for the tip.
And then as we went up the street it was one of those tag days. Well we had contributed at home and I think I mentioned something to her about it. We had already sent in the money for the stamps but she said I would like to help the crippled children and she took a dime that she still had rattling around in her purse and gave it to the lady for the tag day. And seemed to give her great deal of poetry. You see that was her own money and she felt she herself was helping. And I think the generosity and it's the grown up feeling and I think that both of these can be fostered by having a little money. And I think this is wonderful thing for the child to do to want to partly pay the tip and to give to charity on the spur of the moment. Maybe we ought to move on now to this question of how much allowance should be related to duties and how much duties should be kept separate. You said that you tried the allowance alone and felt that the duties weren't getting done and that it was sensible to tie them together.
I'd like to hear from the others what kind of duties do you expect of nine and ten-year-olds and six-year-olds and have you been able to stick to it? Well I'm afraid they don't have too many duties and maybe we're too lenient but they do take turns every night helping clear the table and they realize that each night one of them has a turn and has to take his or her turn. And I have no trouble with that dirty and we have recently been adopted by a dog and they realize now that they have to take a dog for a walk from time to time. That's part of their duty and sometimes it means interrupting play but they must do that. They aren't in on dish washing and they aren't in on bed making. No, no, I'm afraid I've let them go. I'm not sure that she should be afraid.
I have to apologize because I think that one of the important things about duties is to assign duties that are not so burdensome that they can be done. I think that's the experience of most parents that when you try to organize their life too much give them too many jobs. At those ages they just can't participate that much and then they get sour on all duties so I think the whole trick is to get just the right amount of duty. Well from time to time I might say would you I'm in a hurry would you please help me set the table for dinner and I get cooperation immediately because it is something that's rather unusual and they don't mind how to set the table. I think that this is a part of a family life even adult life that the husband doesn't say no I won't help on this special occasion because I've only had dish drying or something. I think that this that duties in children should be very much like the parents share duties which is always a flexible matter. Our little boy is the one who particularly thought that it would be more fun to get paid for the little duties around the house than to just be expected to do a few things each day and then get us sent out.
This Hamilton what about duties in your family well theoretically my son is supposed to burn the rubbish once a week and sweep out the garage. I can't say that that is done every week perhaps more my fault than his and my little girl is supposed to set the table. That's the aim that we have but there are lots of times when I realize that both of them are too busy or there's some reason that they can't do it so that it isn't a hard and fast rule. I do feel perhaps I'm wrong that any other job which you ask a child to do around the house. If you feel that that it's going to be a little difficult for them it doesn't hurt to pay them to do it on the other hand I think that at the same time you can expect them to do some of the things that you ask them to do. As Ranford said of their own free will and willingly I don't like the idea of paying a child for everything that they do.
I expect them to run down the neighbors on an errand for me or to get on his bike and take something up the street. I don't feel that's too much to ask him to do as a part of our family. Do you all agree on this? This would be my feeling too that it gets too mercenary if everything that you're asked to do has to be paid for and I think different families would want to make different proportions out of the paid for and unpaid for work or put different jobs in them. I think that you should learn as a child that there's a certain amount of cooperation and jobs do just because you're a member of the family. Even if this is only 10% of the jobs I would feel myself that it's important that some things be done right. When the child says how much do I get for that I tell him you don't get anything because we do a lot of things for you.
That thing came up on Saturday. Our little girl was cleaning out the pit around our oak tree and she was doing a very good job. How much am I going to get paid for this daddy? I said we just do that as a family. Did I get paid for popping popcorn for you? She thought it was perfectly alright. That was family cooperation and she continued to do a good job. This business, I forget who it was mentioned. This was him that's handled in the boy who's meant to do some outdoor work once a week and you implied in a delicate way that this often doesn't get done. I think that this to my mind connects with whether the child has company and feels that he's doing a grown-ups job with grown-ups. This is the trouble with assigning jobs where you get away from the family and are all by yourself.
The child doesn't have this strong sense of duty. He doesn't have the interest in the lawn. He doesn't have the interest in the garage. Three-quarters of my kids do jobs in a friendly way around the home. I think it is because they love their parents, want to help them on the spot and like the coziness that's involved. I think you're very often and you're most friendly with your children and they with you while you're doing a job together. It's the father who would like to have the garage clean now that this appeals to the father and that this is his motive that would keep him if it was his job, keep after it. But after all, a kid at six or nine doesn't really make the slightest bit of difference to him whether the garage is clean or unclean. So I think it's one thing to keep in mind trying to assign jobs where you will be doing something at the same time. And I think that this is why setting table is a natural because the mother is cooking at that time and the girl really feels that she's sharing in grown-up work.
And I think that dish drying while somebody's dish washing is a natural from the same point of view. I've noticed that if you are there washing the dishes, the children will drive them. But if you walk out of the room and do something else, they walk out too. They are interested in the dish drying. They help you. They enjoy doing it along with you. But they aren't particularly interested when they are going to do it themselves and that's the same idea that you just expressed. That it ought to be something that they can get some companionship as well as the work itself. I think that the two motives of a band I'm repeating now, the two motives of a band are one, the companionship and the other feeling grown up at that moment. And this is what children love to do more than anything else. This feel that they're doing something grown up. And the more it can be voluntary, the more it can be something that they spontaneously fall into. I think the more it appeals to them too. I think this is one way that we take away their natural enjoyment of duties is to make them sound unpleasant.
By the time the mother is saying, now drop your fun, drop your game now. You know it's time to go and make your bed. Or you can't go out and play Saturday morning till you make your bed. Or quit reading the funny's, get to the dishes. This tone of voice meaning it isn't a grown up thing that we all do together for the family. But it's something unpleasant that I feel I have the right to respond to you. This is what takes away the joy and duties. I don't mean that we don't all get to it one time or another. We all do make it sound unpleasant. But it's important to remember that the more you can leave it to the child's spontaneous impulse, the better it will work. Oh, there's so many times I think that they will just offer to do something and enjoy it because they thought of it. Yeah, exactly. And work for hours on something that they thought up by themselves. We're picking up toys and that sort of thing or things that I think that they should, after a certain age, be responsible for themselves.
Don't you, such as perhaps putting their clothes away and picking up after they have been playing. I think those things we all expect them to do pretty much on their own. Yeah, I think especially by the time they get older, this can become automatic. Whereas I think at four and five and six years of age picking up your toys is not something that's become deep within grain. How do you get a boy to pick up his clothes? That's a real problem with me. He just doesn't take any interest in the clothes. Well, I was a child. I can remember my mother had a chest. The Just Visited Parents and Dr. Spock, featuring Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the book entitled Baby and Child Care. Parents and Dr. Spock is directed by Carl Freeporn, produced by Mrs. John Ziegler, technical supervision Larry Flaper, from WQED, first in community television. The preceding program was distributed by the Educational Television and Radio Center. This is National Educational Television.
Thank you very much.
Parents and Dr. Spock
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Child-Parent Relationships
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WQED (Television station : Pittsburgh, Pa.)
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Thirteen WNET (New York, New York)
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Herein Dr. Spock and four mothers discuss some general problems and attitudes dealing with child-parent relationships. Again, the keynote of the discussion is frankness and spontaneity mixed with easy-flowing conversation. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Series Description
Informality and spontaneity are the key words in describing this informative series which runs the gamut of problems which mother and father face as they rear their children. With Dr. Benjamin Spock, already a household name across the nation as the result of his widely read book Baby and Child Care, guiding the discussions, a group of parents talk about problems of a general nature in each of the 13 half-hour episodes. Instead of bombarding the doctor with questions, the parents themselves discuss their problems and how they have settled them with Dr. Spock adding helpful hints. Problems considered range from how much attention should be given children to how they should be disciplined and to those inevitable questions about how the facts of life should be answered. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
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Producing Organization: WQED (Television station : Pittsburgh, Pa.)
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Chicago: “Parents and Dr. Spock; 7; Child-Parent Relationships,” 1955-00-00, Thirteen WNET, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2024,
MLA: “Parents and Dr. Spock; 7; Child-Parent Relationships.” 1955-00-00. Thirteen WNET, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 14, 2024. <>.
APA: Parents and Dr. Spock; 7; Child-Parent Relationships. Boston, MA: Thirteen WNET, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from