One of our common reader questions is how do we handle disagreements between children, specifically with material items.
One thing we have done is recognize a child’s right to their property. I grew up in a “this is my house” environment. Like I was just some outsider invading their space. Nothing belonged to me. My siblings and I weren’t close in age and I don’t recall how these issues were handled by my parents. As a new mom, I made my children share. I punished both children if there was a fight or argument. We are supposed to share right?
But as an adult I have things I don’t want others using. It’s not necessarily selfish. I also have plenty of things I do share. It’s an individuals decision to make. It should never be forced. Property rights are an extension of ourselves. Our property is the fruit of our labor. As a follower of the Non- Agression Principle I oppose using force and coercion to acquire property.
Last week I read a post on FB about a moms frustration with a child having a case of begging. It was a simple toy, but you know how some kids can be. All stages of negotiation set in. (Somewhat coercive behavior) And parental patience breaks down. Some parents give in, some parents snap back. Either way, it’s an emotionally exhausting matter. It rarely happens here. I don’t quite recall when or how we got here, it was a progression of parenting over the years, as we moved from authoritarian parenting. We work to avoid situations such as that and to help our children learn the principles we value. I’m going to address where we are today, to avoid confusion. So if you are referring back to old blogs, some things have changed.
First off we don’t usually buy unnecessary items. We live a minimalist life. We actually have few toys. As parents, we don’t follow the “buy one for everyone” guideline. If I see something Lucas would like, I know that Ezra won’t throw a fit for not getting one. If we buy games or bikes, they are family items and should be shared. Again, we do not force sharing of personal items. Personal items are items bought specifically for that person or bought by them with their own money. It’s theirs. We do not take personal items away as punishment.
We encourage our children to acquire their own items. They can earn money on the homestead by doing extra work, or by working at the salon. Of course littles have smaller earning potential so we do buy more things for them. An example of this would be the bikes we recently picked up. It was a bunch of bikes that all required repair and maintenance. The bikes were being fixed up and for family use. Some of the children wanted their own bikes. We sold Olivia a fixed up bike for $10. It’s hers so unless she gives permission, no one can ride it. She doesn’t want to share because she’s already had to replace a popped tire, again her own money. A good reason not to lend out items. We rarely have arguments over property. It defaults to ownership. Unresolved arguments over community property and all parties lose the privilege of use. In cases of damage or loss the offender has to pay restitution. We generally allow the children to resolve these matters along themselves. If they cannot, it’s brought to us. In cases of unsolved crimes, restitution comes out of the family fun budget.
The children earn and manage their own money based on personal responsibility. Ezra (6) and Lucas (5) are just learning, so they get half to spend and half to save. They can purchase what they like, with few restrictions, its their money. They all make their own purchase which helps with learning to interact in the real world. Urijah (8) Zachary (10) and Olivia (9) have full control over their money, but I strongly advise them on purchases and help them make good purchases. Olivia is the only one good at saving up. Zachary is my little borrower. He’s always asking for little loans. He’s terrible with budgeting. But he needs to learn on his own.. and mismanaging $5-10 is far better then getting his first paycheck as an adult and blowing $500-$1,000. Urijah isn’t financially motivated much, so he just earns a little spending cash on occasion and spends it all at Dollar tree. Issac(12) is my most financially responsible child. He tracks his income and spending. He has several savings for different items he’s trying to obtain. Abigail (13) is pretty good with financial decisions. She saved up over $1,000. She wasn’t much for budgeting but she just took on a big responsibilty so she’s been working on a personal budget. Quinten (16) is like Abigail. I advise both, but their money is theirs. Jacob (17) manages his own finances and buys his own personal supplies. He pays his rent in the form of helping build his portion of the homestead.
When it comes to items we purchase, we the parents provide necessities. If a child wants something that is not a necessity, they can ask. We discuss why the child wants it, if it’s a budget friendly item, how it will be cared for and who will purchase the item. Like tonight, Abigail had spent her budget and wanted to get a shirt. She has more than enough clothing, but it was a nice shirt. I went ahead and bought the shirt. If the answer is no, the child, depending upon age, might get a little disappointed. It’s understandable. We adults do that. We however do not tolerate abusive acts or language and we rarely have to deal with it.
In addition to personal purchases, we involve the children in most of the financial management of the home. Whether it be assisting with food shopping or helping decide major purchases we make sure the children are informed about how to manage and budget money. They have great input and we value their opinion.