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What would you do if you walked out the door and discovered that your child had shred their allowance and left it on the floor?
What if I told you that their reason for tearing the money was because it “wasn’t enough”?
Ms. Moore, before offering her advice, makes a side note about the “flack” she receives for supporting spanking.
“There are just times in parenting where spanking is not only called for, but down right needed”
This statement is what leads me to believe she feels that would be an appropriate consequence in this instance. Her formal response is to make the child tape the money back together and then “force” them to use it towards the family utility bills, and also to contribute several months worth of allowance the same way. Her concept is that this would teach her child the value of money.
Before I can respond to her advice, I have to deal with the the inferred consequence of spanking the child.
I get it! I totally would want to spank my child as well! I can say with utmost certainty that if I came out and found money purposely shredded at the door to my bedroom because it “wasn’t enough” I would EXPLODE inwardly. I would literally see red. In fact, I would have to go into the other room and NOT face my kid until I came down from Mt. Rage and entered the Valley of Calm Calculation. It is my job is to educate and raise my child and therefore I would want think of an appropriate and effective response.
The reason I am an atheist is because over time I found there was overwhelming evidence for a natural world and no legitimate evidence of a deity. I would wager most people become atheists or lose faith in religion because of compelling evidence against the concept of a deity. Which then leads me to suspect that a majority of secular parents are probably evidence driven people.
Well, spanking has also been (and continues to be) researched rather rigorously and thus far been linked to have a strong correlation to antisocial and aggressive behavior in children (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/04/spanking.aspx). There is a huge body of evidence to suggest that alternate forms of behavior modification should be used instead and as a person of reason, I follow that suggestion. To do the opposite and spank my child despite knowing that it’s harmful and ineffective in addressing the root of the problem is, in my opinion, cruel. Despite what some of the highly religious might think about us secular families, we are not actually cruel or amoral. 🙂
Which brings us back around to finding a solution! And I applaud Ms. Moore for coming up with a more long term solution! I don’t know how effective just telling a kid their allowance is going to a bill would be but I agree that they clearly don’t know the value of money, and as a good parent I would want to educate them. As a kid I got allowance every month without any stipulation of earning it (I just had to budget it into various categories). My wife received money every week for doing chores growing up. I think removing the “you get money every (insert random time interval here) with or without any work” and replacing it with a “you get a nickel/dime quarter for every chore/work around the house” makes more sense. It provides instant reward at a sustainable rate for parents that the child can pocket and spend on their own. They can save up for their candy or toy and work extra to earn extra. If they don’t want to participate in this then they can be broke. Of course you’ll have to walk them by stores they would want to purchase at next time you go out to really let them feel that financial pain but whatever. The message here is a simple: “If you feel you are entitled to handouts then no more handouts. You want money, you $&%# earn it just like the rest of us.”
My wife was thinking there could also be another educational piece here with having them volunteer to help or work with people who are less fortunate. I think that a multifaceted approach is better than just a single solution for sure. I’m sure you fine folks will also have ideas that would be appropriate and effective. Spanking in my opinion doesn’t make the cut. Teaching a child to fear their parent doesn’t address the actual underlying problem and possibly adds more difficult problems down the road according to current studies.
Feel free to share your ideas and even other parenting conundrums. Even though I disagree with some of what Ms Moore wrote, I am glad she wrote about the problem. Mental exercises like this allow us to problem solve before we have to take on a challenge like this ourselves.
Over the last few months, my daughters and I have snuggled up together under blankets to read our latest bedtime stories from an anthology called “In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World.”
Like a good humanist Mom, I wanted to make sure my girls knew all about various religious traditions rather than being indoctrinated into a specific viewpoint. I wanted to make sure all religious myths were given equal footing in their lives rather than hearing only stories from Genesis. I wanted to make sure they saw the rich tapestry of beliefs that make up the cultures of our world rather than think one particular story was “divine.” I wanted a cozy yet educational experience with lots of reflection and deep thinking.
What I got instead? Two young girls doubled up laughing!
It started with the very first story, the very first page. “The Pea Pod Man” is an Eskimo myth about a trickster raven god. Here is how it went.
Me (reading): “Time was, there were no people on Earth. The first man still lay inside the pea pod.”
8 year old (giggling): WHAT? Like, inside a bean??
And it continued through the second story, “Quat the Creator,” a myth about a sun god who creates humans from wooden puppets.
Me (reading): “The brothers were all named Tangaro, but–”
6 year old (interrupting): They all had the same name?!
[Pause for 10 minutes of laughing.]
Me (reading, a bit later when Tangaro the Fool had created, buried, then forgotten his own wooden puppets): “What he found there had rotted. He was forced to leave his puppets buried, they smelled so bad.”
At this point, I admit I was chuckling along with them and by the time we got to Tawis-karong beating up his brother with a bag full of corn and beans in “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky,” we were just howling at all the ludicrous things in these stories!
Should I discourage the laughing? Maybe. Am I worried that they’ll laugh when they hear others share their Judeo-Christian creation stories? A little. But frankly, I’m glad they recognize the ridiculousness and rather relieved they aren’t prone to falling for the fiction. At least not yet. And we have some time to work on polite but truthful responses to religious traditions that won’t offend. Or won’t offend as much.
Hamilton, V., & Moser, B. (1988). In the beginning: Creation stories from around the world. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.