Our three granddaughters remind me from time to time that I was once the meanest grandmother on earth because I would only pay them the paltry wage of 20 cents/day for tidying up their bedrooms.
In my defence, when they were very little the youngest two had the slovenly habit of leaving their bedrooms in a state of utter chaos. Soft toys, felt tip pens, bits of paper and clothes were left scattered all over the floor.
One day I had had enough of wearing myself out clearing up after them so I offered them all 20 cents per day if they would tidy their rooms up before breakfast.
My offer was considered. But even their grandfather agreed that it was too stingy. A deputation was sent to see if I was willing to top it up.
They were very persuasive but being stubborn I dug in my heels. My initial paltry offer should stand as: “I don’t get paid for cooking your dinner or washing your clothes. In families you do things for Love not Money.”
In retrospect I admit that I should have caved in and been a little more generous so they wouldn’t remember me as Mrs Scrooge!
Thank goodness they are older, wiser and tidier now and just get on with tidying up after themselves without expecting handouts. This is a result of the great upbringing they have had by their Mum and step Dad. At home they all share in the household tasks.
And I am still on the side of doing things for Love rather than Money. I want to keep building a relationship with my granddaughters that is built on giving then my time and affection and I don’t want to be seen as a money machine.
As grandparents when there is money to spare we prefer to just use it to quietly pay for their music lessons or an art workshop that will help them to grow and develop. And to be generous when their birthdays and Christmas comes round and put some money aside for their future education.
Still there are occasions now when I think that a little payment for a special task is perfectly justified. When my teenage granddaughter spends a whole day decorating a cake for a special family occasion and I pop a $20 note in her hand. Surely that’s fine?
And what about bribery? Should grandparents engage in that kind of behaviour?
These holidays I hatched another financial scheme. The girls had been engaging in rather a lot of teasing and name calling (otherwise known as peer rivalry) But as I like my house to be a haven of peacefulness and good behaviour I decided to try and put a stop to it by offering each $2.00 a day from which 20 cents would be deducted each time they were mean to each other.
It worked like a charm. Their behaviour was exemplary, although I cannot be quite sure that they were not slinging off at each other occasionally behind my back .By the end of the week the accumulated fines amounted to only 40 cents, and I was $41.60 out of pocket. They were happy.
But had I crossed a line I shouldn’t have? Is bribery, even when it turns out to be effective, excusable? Is it a good way to teach grandchildren to be loving rather than mean to each other? Should grandparents use it to solve a behavioural issue or is this taking the easy but wrong way out?
What do other grandparents think? And who thinks that grandparents should sometimes/frequently pay their grandchildren money for helping around the house or garden when they come to stay with them .Or should anything they do to help be seen as a normal part of family life which is done for Love not Money?
By Lyn Potter. Read more here.