Your Children Don't Owe You Any Money

Joscelyn Kate

I believe as a parent I have a responsibility to be a safe space for my children.

I need to give them a landing pad in the world where they can start building a strong foundation. I want my children to have the stability of untethered support behind them. The world will not offer them unconditional love or support, my children will need to earn everything, including decency and respect. The world will teach my children lessons I do not have to about money and transactional relationships. Only I have the ability to teach my children about non-transactional relationships, which are the most fundamentally and essentially human relationships to have.

Our happiness resides in the relationships that consist of an exchange of feelings, not niceties, money, products, or services. That’s why people have those friends who they say they can not see or speak with for a long period of time and then hop back into their lives without missing a beat. It’s about a feeling of welcoming and validation and optional caring. When people choose to care about your feelings and thoughts and the thighs that matter to you, it communicates respect and that you’re valuable. We don’t get too many options to demonstrate to other humans that they are more to us than what they can provide for us.

Human relationships are complex and while we want to believe we’re responsible for our own fulfillment, the truth is, congregating, communing, and coming together, are the very pillars of fulfillment. We crave connection, love, relation, relatability, and understanding, from other humans.

Confusing relationships, with money, leads to distance—a distance that is appropriate between employer and employee, lesser and lessee, seller and buyer, but uncomfortable between a parent and child.

Before someone makes the decision to charge their child rent, they’re consistently providing them with their most basic needs— food, shelter, and clothing. This very act, of unconditioned support, is an indicator of a unique relationship: children come to rely on you differently, to provide them—unconditionally— with items needed for survival.

This very unique relationship is what builds the parent-child bond. This is why they trust you, differently, why they confide in you, differently, and why they seek comfort in you, differently.

When you charge your child rent, a line is being drawn.

As a parent, by default, you’re seen as a teammate, someone in their corner, a member of the same tribe. Even when there are arguments and disagreements, you’re standing on the same side of a line.

As someone who charges rent, you’re an intended potential adversary. You are now on opposite sides of a line, even when you’re not arguing or disagreeing. Even when times are good, you are a source of financial angst, a survival obligation rather than a survival supplier.

The power dynamic has changed. Parents may believe they’re helping their child develop a sense of independence, but it’s at the expense of a once untainted relationship — one that previously did not include monetary exchanges.

Money is cold and hard and it sucks the warmth out of all things, especially relationships.

Why are they being charged?

If a child’s been cared for without contributing financially, chances are they don’t need to contribute financially.

If they do need to pay, because of financial difficulty or some other reason, consider how this could impact the mental health, and growing independence, of the child.

Using your child as a bridge from financial hardship to financial stability can handicap their ability to seek out full independence. Children are led by their parents, consciously and subconsciously. Financially depending on your child can cause a confusing power dynamic that doesn’t allow for fully informed consent.*

Becoming a landlord to your child creates a business relationship. You become an obligation, a source of angst, an adversary who needs and wants from them, rather than a safe space for unconditional support free from reciprocation requirements.

What will be done with the money?

Because honestly, it makes no sense to charge a fixed amount of money each week or month, require payment, and give it back.

Self-discipline is what leads to good financial habits, not spending consistency — with a resulting financial windfall.

If you want your child to learn how to not spend money that should be saved, teach them about putting their own money into a savings account and not spending it, even though they have access to it and could choose to spend it.

If it’s used to pay for bills in the family home, this, again, creates an unbalanced power dynamic.

Like a matryoshka doll, children will never grow equal to their parents— regardless of education, financial status, accomplishments, or mental health breakthroughs. A power imbalance will always exist between a parent and child, at every age, forever.

Financial exchanges typically indicate equality, autonomous decision-making, and independent thinking. *When an imbalanced power dynamic exists, like that between a parent and child, financial exchanges cannot be equal, autonomous, or independent.

Especially if the child has no ability to say no, or seek out another comparable, alternative situation.

In addition to never charging my kid rent, I won’t pay them an allowance either.

I don’t believe a household should function as an employer. We are not rewarded for completing our household chores, doing laundry, keeping our homes tidy, and maintaining personal standards.

As parents, it’s our job to help our children develop healthy habits inside the home, and out. Teaching them about maintenance and personal responsibility equips them for independence without compromising the relationship with a financial exchange.

I’m here to help my children succeed in life. The best way for me to do so is by understanding the power dynamic that exists, acknowledging it, and working within it, fairly.

The ripple effects of learned discipline will equip your child for success.

Teaching your children about independence, good decision making, and personal responsibility will lead to good financial habits. I don’t believe we have to mimic real-world scenarios so our children can learn how to navigate them.

I do believe we need to create a safe space for our children to learn and grow, at every age. I will always embrace the fact that, as a parent, I am different, I’m seen as exempt from inflicting the realness — the coldness — of the world onto my children.

I’m their safe, their free, their foundation and I don’t ever want them to feel like they have to buy a place in my home.

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Lover of lattes, champagne, avocados, sleep, and my perfect family. The epitome of a liberal millennial snowflake.

Boston, MA

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