Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Love, Logic & Debt

A while back in this space, I reviewed the well-known book Parenting with Love and Logic.  That book's parenting techniques focus on allowing your children to make their own choices (where possible) and let them live with the consequences.  While most parents I know who've read it like the principles in the book, the examples can feel unrealistic.  For example, my friend who lives in an "up and coming" neighborhood with busy thoroughfares chuckled at the notion of letting his squabbling kids out of the car to walk the last half mile home as a "natural consequence" of bad behavior.  When I find practical ways to implement Love and Logic, I get excited.

Here's an experience I'd like to share; it takes some explanation to set up.   Sometime last year, Paige discovered the Moonjar, a three-part bank that helps teach kids that money has different uses.  We got one for each boy as a place to put his allowance.  The three parts are Spend, Save and Share, and it even comes with a little passbook if you want to track the amounts in each over time.  Currently, Charlie splits his $1.50 allowance evenly between the three - his idea - setting aside 50 cents to spend, 50 cents to save for gift buying and bigger occasions and giving 50 cents in the church offering each week.  Teddy splits his $.60 allowance 30 for spend, 20 for save and 10 for share.

A few weeks back, the boys had both built up a little pile of money in the Spend chamber of their Moonjars.  They decided to go together and buy a larger pack of Pokemon cards than either could afford on his own and split the cards proportionally to the amount each invested.  It's their money; it's for them to spend.  This transaction passed muster.  After the purchase, however, Teddy was left with around $.43 in his Spend. That Friday was dress-down day at school, a fundraiser for the yearbook.  If you give a dollar, you can dress down; otherwise, you're to wear your school uniform.  Since the boys get an allowance and have money of their own, we've had them pay their own way on dress-down day.  Teddy went to his Moonjar and found that he only had the 43 cents, and he was really bummed.  He wanted to dress down and asked if he could borrow the money.  I told him that he could borrow it under these terms: I would take 40 cents from him that day and then cut the 30 cents he would usually put in Spend out of his allowance for the next 2 weeks in order to pay me back.  He took the offer.

I wish I could say that he learned clearly about paying off debts and the restrictions it places on other spending you'd like to do.  Instead, he kept thinking of other things he wanted to buy, and I kept having to remind him that he now had 3 cents in his Spend chamber.  He engaged in some magical thinking about how he could probably buy some things for 3 cents.  The best learning moment probably came at the next dress-down day (the yearbook needs a lot of money) when I decided not to lend him a dollar again.  He had to wear his uniform when his brother and other friends dressed down.  

It will take more learning opportunities than this one, but I appreciated the Love and Logic framework and a chance to execute it.


Anne H. said...

Tell Teddy when he needs $$ his Popo is a soft touch and can completely undermine any teachable situations his hard-hearted parents might exploit.

Jacksons said...

Love this idea Jeff. Nice work.