The “Torn Allowance” Conundrum.

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”?

It’s a fair question that Kandice Moore, who blogs at RaisinEmReal, answered in response to a Facebook post that shared this story.

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.

Spencer

Spencer

Spencer is a happily married father of two. He works full time (and then some) as a paramedic in Oregon. He is a fan of gaming, reading, and the skepticism movement. In his off time he enjoys playing “cars” with his kids.

More Posts

Can Atheists Celebrate Easter? – Happy Secular Easter!

“Why do you celebrate Easter? You’re not Christian.”

Have you encountered this delicious question? It usually comes with a side helping of “raised eyebrow” and lightly coated in a smug “I-gotcha-there” sauce. At first glance it seems like a logical complaint- why are we celebrating a Christian Holiday if we are not Christian? The answer is Easter has roots that go deeper than Christianity, and it also has chocolate bunnies… Mmm how I like a good chocolate bunny.

seculareaster

Easter isn’t Christian?

The short answer is modern Easter is a Christian holiday. It is a long established celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. However, before Christianity became dominant there was other cultures and religions celebrating the renewal of life in the spring. In fact, Christianity has even adopted some of the practices from the religions that they assimilated. Have you pondered where the Easter bunny came from? Or why we decorate eggs? Those practices have their own origin stories and I think you’ll find them as interesting as I have.

When exactly is Easter?

Many ancient and current cultures love to celebrate the equinoxes, also known as the two times a year when the day and night are equal in length. This happens in spring and in fall, usually around March 20th and September 22nd(4). Easter is roughly the first Sunday after the full moon following the equinox. I say “roughly” because Eastern and Western Christians reportedly use different calendars (7). It seems odd that a day that is specifically reserved to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus changes every year. I mean… that’s what I appreciate about MLK day; it’s mobility in the calendar.

There is a Death then a Resurrection… let’s celebrate!

Hopefully I didn’t give away the plot too quickly. If I didn’t, hold on. Many Christians are quick to say that Easter is a time to celebrate the “death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for…” but they aren’t the only religion to establish a life/death and/or resurrection theme occurring around the same season. Have you heard of the epic myth of “The Descent of Inanna”? Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of fertility who travels into the underworld and is trapped. Fertility on earth ceases while she is trapped below and hung from a hook. Luckily, a servant of hers is able to convince one of three other Gods that this is indeed a problem. She is released via a ritual involving water, plants, and a deal that someone must come and take her place. When she learns that her husband did not mourn her death she offers him up to the demons that escorted her out. Her husband’s sister is upset by this and offers to take his place. They end up splitting the time, each doing 6 months at a time then switching. Interestingly enough when Inanna’s husband is out, there is a boon in fertility as Inanna still loves him greatly. There are a couple different versions of this story.  There are other Gods from different regions suffering fates of death only to be brought back to life. Dionysus was killed and resurrected, Horus was killed and resurrected (8).  Point is, there are a lot of similarities between many of these stories and new life or “resurrection” is celebrated across a lot of cultures throughout time.

Spring was a time of celebration for many ancient cultures. Many religions across various regions of the world worshiped different gods and goddesses (mostly focused around life and fertility) around this time. Among those worshiped were Aphrodite, Ishtar, Demeter, Kali, and Eostre (Eastre). Eostre was “The Great Mother Goddess” for the Saxon people of Ancient Northern Europe. It is possible that she is who our current day of celebration is named after (2). There is lore that she would travel with a rabbit companion who was once a dying bird that she turned into a hare to save. The story goes that the rabbit, having been a bird once, could now lay eggs and did so in plenty out of gratitude (7). According to one source, the Easter bunny made its way to the United States in the 1700s via German immigrants who would have their children set up nests for the fabled rabbit to leave eggs (9).

What’s with the Eggs?

Cultures that assimilate others usually end up adopting practices of the assimilated but with just a different spin. Take for example the Easter egg. Eggs (a symbol of fertility and life) were given as springtime gifts long before Christianity adopted the practice. The earliest decorated eggs found were in Africa from 60,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, eggs were prized and considered to represent the Sun. Even the ancient Persians would give gifts of decorated eggs, and Pagan celebrations of Eostre included eggs, as well. Early Christians continued this practice but would dye the eggs red to represent the blood of Christ (6).

So this brings us back to the beginning. “Why do you celebrate Easter if you’re not Christian?”

You could tell them about the pagan rituals and celebrations that occurred around that time long before Christianity took hold. You could tell them of the gods of past who also were killed and resurrected. You could even counter by asking them why they celebrate with an Easter Bunny who delivers eggs. Or you could smile and say, “Seriously?  Because chocolate bunnies are delicious and my kids like it when I hide eggs for them to find.” This is best said as you walk away shaking your head and laughing incredulously.

The honest to God truth (see what I did there?) is that a lot of the practices that are part of our Easter holiday have historical ties to a variety of other religious and cultural practices. Heck, there are even some Christians who want to remove what they recognize as pagan practices from their celebration (http://www.enduring.org/article/origins-of-easter).

The great news is that ALL of these cultures ultimately seemed to want to worship one thing: winter is over and spring is starting. It is not a strictly Christian holiday and your secular family is free to celebrate however you want! In fact… if you’re looking for ideas, you should stay tuned for PART 2 of our series: Ideas for a Secular Easter!

 


  1. http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/the_wheel_of_the_year/solstice_and_equinox_dates_2010_to_2020.asp

  2. http://www.religioustolerance.org/easter1.htm
  3. http://www.nwf.org/news-and-magazines/national-wildlife/animals/archives/2010/spring-behavior.aspx
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinox
  5. “Egg Cetera #6: Hunting for the world’s oldest decorated eggs | University of Cambridge”.
  6. Donahoe’s Magazine, Volume 5.
  7. http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/ancient-pagan-origins-easter-001571
  8. http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5d.htm
  9. http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/easter-symbols
Spencer

Spencer

Spencer is a happily married father of two. He works full time (and then some) as a paramedic in Oregon. He is a fan of gaming, reading, and the skepticism movement. In his off time he enjoys playing “cars” with his kids.

More Posts