Thus far in this hook the question of the children's share in the making and carrying out of the budget has been dealt with, in one aspect or another, more than once. But it is not enough training for these apprentices to teach them judgment through a part in making the family choices, to train them in the earning of a labor income, or to give them the chance to pay with some of their time and energy for something they want. All these things are fundamental, but they need to be supplemented by the definite training of making a budget and keeping accounts within the child's scope and as a responsibility. This is possible only if the child has a fixed money income, paid in sums and at intervals known in advance. The "allowance," this is called. If the word means the amount of the family income that is allowed the individual for certain purposes of his own, and over which he has full right, the term is a good one. If there is a connotation of favor in the term, so that the child or the family feels that his "allowance" is an indulgence, the term is unfortunate.
It is not enough to say that for the training of the child in spending, as an educational measure, he should have a definite sum for whose spending he alone is responsible. As a member of the family he has a right to that responsibility, and he does not share the family life fully unless he has it. And this sum is not payment for anything he does in the household routine. To pay Jack 10 cents a week for keeping the walks clean, or Mary 10 cents a week for clearing the table, introduces as false an idea into the family life as when Mother is paid for her services. In a cooperative group each receives, not what he earns, but the share to which he is entitled by his needs. Children arc not "given" their main expenses by Father and Mother only to "earn" an allowance. The family income, in time and in labor, belongs to the family as a whole and is divided by them to the best advantage of the group as a whole and of each individual in it. It cannot be said too strongly that teaching children the value or the method of obtaining money by paying them for any part of their share in the family life is bad education and bad ethics.
Granted, however, that the allowance is made as part of each child's share in the living, when and under what conditions should it be given? To answer the first half of the question, each child should certainly have an allowance as soon as he can do the simple figuring necessary to make a plan and keep accounts. With many children it is advisable to begin before this, but only when the child understands that the money is not a casual indulgence, but a definite income. The age at which the child should have an allowance must depend on the individual child, and that child's stage of development must be considered at every point. There is danger that enthusiasm for training the child by giving him responsibility may lead to asking him to take too much, and to putting an unfair strain on his undeveloped judgment. The problem is that of right adjustment to his powers, as is every educational problem in some degree.
The allowance should be given the child weekly, and on a regular day. Sunday afternoon or evening is in most families a good time for the distribution, and for the questions that may come up. And the child old enough to keep accounts should be required to do so, and to balance them. From time to time Mother or Father should call for the account, and they should expect it to be ready at any time. Accounts hastily written up for inspection are a temptation to carelessness and even deceit. The inspection should be for the method of keeping accounts, not for the way the money was used. If money is used unwisely, as the parents see it, any exhortation regarding this must depend on the character and general training of the child.
Such exhortation should be avoided unless it is very important. It is of little disciplinary value to the child to give him responsibility and then to interfere in his exercise of it. And parents will do well to remember how easy it is to criticize the judgment of others in the use of money, how hard it is to be confident of one's own. But the inspection of method cannot be omitted, as unless with the exceptional child slipshod ways will be the result if the child is left to his own devices.
The third point in importance, after those of the regular fixed income and the inspected account, is defi-niteness regarding what the money is to cover. It should never be for amusement - candy, movies, what-not - alone. For those who have church connections, the Sunday School penny is a frequent part of the plan, and a good one, but should be led up to until it is the choice of the child, not the order of the elder. "You are old enough now to have a little income of your own, so every week you are to have your share. Ten cents a week, that is going to be more than $5 in the year. Every Sunday afternoon I am going to give you the ten cents, and I will show you about how to keep track of it. But first you want to plan a little, as we all do about our money, don't you? Do you want to spend all the ten cents on yourself?" and so on. That sounds a little like Hollo, but a real give-and-take conversation of this kind is hard to reproduce, since mothers and fathers and children are all different. But surely the child should be expected to make a plan and should be led, not forced, to plan to give some for the general good and some in presents to those he loves. The impulse toward both is so strong in most children that the process is a simple one. The occasional child who does not want to give anything to anybody needs training as early as possible. It might even be advisable in an extreme case to make his allowance smaller than that of his brother or sister, on the ground that his needs are fewer, since he has not the desire to share with others that they must meet.
As rapidly as possible the income should be increased and the responsibilities along with it. The increase should not be on the ground of age, except as an added year makes the child more able to exercise judgment and meet responsibility. It should be quite clear to Dorothy, who has 15 cents a week at ten, that the reason Betty has 25 cents at twelve is not because she is two years older, but because she has good enough judgment to buy all her own hair ribbons, which come out of the seemingly princely weekly allowance.