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A young brown-haired girl around age 10 stands at a sink using a rag to wash a white plate. There is a small stack of clean dishes behind her.

A Raise? Why Pay Her At All?

On Friday last week, my daughter sat down with my husband and me and outlined her reasons, beyond what she included in her note to us, about why she deserved a raise for babysitting her little sister.

She was nervous (she didn’t know we’d essentially already decided to give it), but she very rationally explained why she felt she had earned the raise.

She did great, and earned herself a $3/hour raise.

She positively beamed.

I then showed her last week’s article, in which I basically gave the ending away and she laughed and said “Mom, why did you make me fight for it if you knew you were going to give it to me?”

Oh, dear girl…because that’s what we call adulting. 😊

Now, my daughter is not an adult, but she is in the period of her life where it is critical that she learn adulting skills so that when she is grown and flown, she is ready to soar.

And this was just one piece of the puzzle.  One way to practice.

Many of you emailed me that you loved this story and the way we handled it.  But some wrote with the very legitimate question: “Why do you pay her at all? Shouldn’t she help out as a member of the family?”

It’s a fair question, and one I want to take a few moments to answer, because it’s one we thought a lot about.

At the outset, I should clarify that we pay my daughter for babysitting *only* if we are asking her to do so so we can go out with friends, attend an event, go on a date, or do something else that is uniquely for us. If we are actively contributing to the family by cleaning the garage, going to Costco, or preparing dinner, for example, we do not pay her to watch her sister.

She understands the distinction; the reason for it is fourfold and really centers on one thing: RESPECT.

  1. We work hard to build and cultivate a home based on mutual respect. We do that in a number of ways, and prioritizing fairness is an important element of that for us. “Penalizing” one child by requiring her to watch her sister for free while we “gallivant” about simply because she had the bad luck to be born first doesn’t meet our family definition of respectful and fair.
  1. I want my girls to have a really great relationship with one another and not create an environment where my big kid feels resentful of her sister. Fortunately, we’re on the right track here—they legitimately love and like one another—but I know there’s a balance there to maintain.  I never want my older daughter to feel taken advantage of.
  1. When my husband and I are doing something fun, it’s usually in the evening on during the weekend, which means she *can’t* do something fun. Because she is actively giving up the opportunity to do something she might otherwise enjoy so that we can instead, we hand over the money.  Again, to us, it just feels respectful and fair.
  1. Financial literacy is important to us. We want our daughters to learn how to earn money, and how to budget, and how to spend wisely.  They cannot do this if they don’t have a way to earn it.  Further, my daughter never could have learned how to ask for a raise and promote her own value, if we were not paying her.  That’s a lesson most young people don’t learn until years later, if at all. By itself, that's worth the price of admission.

Now admittedly, this might be a tougher sell if my daughter weren’t already so helpful around the house.

As it is, she vacuums, takes care of the pets, empties the dishwasher, cleans the bathroom, cleans up after the dogs in the backyard, does dishes, helps in the yard when needed, sometimes cooks a meal, and more.

She may not love every minute, but she does it willingly and without (much) complaint because she understands chores are important and that’s the work of a family.

But babysitting while we play?

That's above and beyond and deserving of a well-earned raise.

What works for your family?  What approach do you have to helping your child earn money?


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Christy Keating fun headshot

Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.