Friday, October 11, 2013


"... the spending of pocket-money is another opportunity for initiative on the children's part and for self-restraint on that of the parents. No doubt the...(parent) who doles out the weekly pocket-money and has never given...(their) children any large thoughts about money - as to how the smallest of income is divisible into the share that we give, and the share that we keep, and the share that we save for some object worth possessing,... can not expect...(their) children to think of money in any light but as means to self-indulgence... By degrees pocket-money should include the cost of gloves, handkerchiefs, etc., until, finally, the girl who is well on in her teens should be fit to be trusted with her own allowance for dress and personal expenses. The parents who do not trust their young people in this matter, after having trained them, are hardly qualifying them to take their place in a world in which the wise, just, and generous spending of money is a great test of character."   SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason. p 41.
This post, which is the third in this series, is part of a philosophy that is explained throughout the entire series. So please read each post so you can gain the full thought of how to treat children as persons.
Many years ago when I first read these particular sentences in the quote above, we already had a different plan with our children in regards to money. From the start we didn't have any spare money to think about giving the children pocket-money. My husband and I had no such money to allocate to ourselves on a weekly basis or spend as we wished. And so as a family we took the approach that money was something you earn and with it came certain responsibilities.
But our children were given  opportunities where they earned some money for themselves. A dollar or two that an aunt gave if they massaged her shoulders and brushed her hair. One child offered to do helpful jobs at home above and beyond their normal family chores. Some of the kids made saleable items for the community such as baking. One son as a young boy 'went to work' to help friends who built houses and landscaped and there earned a little money along with many other skills and life attitudes.
However when I found and read the section above, I welcomed the thought that money was another opportunity for my children to develop their personal initiative and for me to stand back. 
I was also encouraged that the writer saw an automatic responsibility that parents had when giving their children pocket-money. To simultaneously give them "large thoughts about money". 
This is not handing out instructions on how to use and spend the pocket-money. Instead "large thoughts.." are preferably presented to a child during normal life conversations, through reading books, watching movies and observations of people around us, where the child sees for themselves the consequences that come from the choices and ways people use their money. This gives a child material to think on, a basis from which they then choose how to spend their own money.
Our children knew that any money that came their way was not theirs to totally spend on themselves. Making them aware of the needs of people we knew both directly and indirectly and being part of giving assistance, even financially, established a backdrop for them to understand that if you have money, then with it you also carry a responsibility to help others. So Charlotte Mason's idea that "the smallest income is divisible into the share that we give", seemed very sound advice, especially in her placement of this being the first thought one is to have with their money. 
There are many ways a child can be part of giving their money away. It is important that it be their choice to give to this need, and best if they can be part of it and see in action the effect of the giving of such money.
The remaining part of the child's money, after the share that is given away, is divided into "the share that we keep" and "the share that we save".
How much the amount is that is kept or given or saved, is not suggested in the quote. Each person is to work that out. But from this portion, as well as a child buying what they please, "By degrees" a child is also to take ownership to support themselves. 
It could start with paying for their own ice creams on holidays, paying the extra money required to buy a particular bag or pair of sports shoes they would like, paying their own bus fare or for the petrol when borrowing mum's car to go and see friends, paying for their own mobile phone and its maintenance. It must be by degrees and reasonable when you consider the amount of money they have. It must also be through real situations so they are trained by failure when money is ill-spent and brought up to a point where they are "fit to be trusted" with the use of money, well prepared for their life ahead.
One of our daughters before she was a teenager was completely hooked on a series of books and so chose over a year to buy the lot from the publisher in America - a lot of money. Once read they sat on the bookshelf and a few years later when she attempted to sell them, received a tiny amount of money in comparison to what she had paid. But a lesson was learnt, to her cost. 
This concept is so rarely thought about or actioned today. Even banks with their lending policies seem to discourage saving while encouraging us to spend. To the contrary, here parents are advised to train children to "save for some object worth possessing". The experience of waiting and saving over time, of thinking carefully about the choice of what to save for is suggested to start its practice from childhood. The repeated experience and pleasure found as each worthy possession that is saved for is finally bought, builds a great quality in a developing person. It also builds a healthy understanding of adult life, where most people have to save and wait to own a house and many other things.
The recurring idea in this quote is that pocket-money is a training ground for children. What are you training into your children? What attitude are you giving them to do with their use of money? Is it encouraging their development to become persons who are "wise, just, and generous" in their use of money, persons of character?
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ don't get side-tracked and just think about if to start giving pocket-money to your children, or how much money you should give. Get to the real point and begin to equip your kids to deal with their money by giving them "large thoughts about money". This is the only way to equip them well financially for their futures.

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