Friday, September 22, 2017

Why don’t I pay my children for their grades?

This is a topic I should have posted about 35 years ago, when my older daughter was 14.

My daughter says the other kids get paid for their grades. She doesn’t think it’s fair that I won’t pay her for hers.

I have rules for things I pay for.  I pay for services, that are of no benefit to the person performing them, but are important for my quality of life, such as paying the plumber to fix my leaky faucet. I pay for things I want and need, like groceries or new shoes. I pay for entertainment, such as movie tickets or concert tickets.

When I pay for professional entertainment. I know that performing is fun for the entertainers, whether or not I’m there. I pay for the privilege of being there. I know I’m paying them for far more than inborn talent. I’m paying them for the years of education, training and practice that make them truly worth listening to or watching. I am paying so I may benefit from their performance.

I send my children to school for their benefit. Their grades are their teachers’ way of telling them they did a good job. They have learned skills they need to improve the quality of their lives. They do not learn for my benefit. I pay taxes for their education. I provide them a quiet place to study. I help them if they have problems or questions. I praise them when they master a new skill, or tell me their thoughts on a new subject. I engage with them on their newfound interests. These are the real benefits of education.

When my child asks me to pay her for her grades, she is responding to peer pressure. I will never encourage my child to give in to peer pressure. I don’t buy her a candy bar at the grocery store check-out. I don’t care if all the other moms in the line are buying them.

When she asks to be paid for her grades, I’m aware she is also asking for more money. She knows she can babysit or mow lawns for more money. She will be providing a service that is of no benefit to her, but is of use to the person paying her. This is also something I want her to learn.

I had a thought after I wrote this: If grades really matter to the parents, they need to pay the child to do their homework, daily. No child will wait over 4 months for a paycheck. So, at a minimum of 2 hours of homework a day, and a reasonable minimum wage of $15 an hour, that's $30 per day, or about $3000 per semester, plus a bonus if the grades are good.  Again, if the parents really want good grades, they will hire a tutor. And since this child is only doing the work to get money, the child will also hit up the tutor for an additional hourly wage.  Thus, the parents need to pay the tutor a skill level fee of $30 an hour, plus, extra to bribe the child. We're now up to $10,000 per semester, plus the end-of-semester Grade Bonus. Since most parents don't want to pay that much money, what they are really doing is telling their children, learning has no inherent value, and then paying the good students a pittance for being good students.