- Personal Finance»
- Family Budget
Can Kids Make Money?
It seems strange that we need to ask whether kids can make money, when we have examples of kids making huge incomes as actors, singers, and Olympic athletes.
There is a sense, somehow, that these kids are special. That they have some great talent, and that "ordinary" kids need to wait until they are old enough to get an ordinary job at an ordinary fast food outlet or ordinary car wash or ordinary retail store. They must then live an ordinary existence on an ordinary part-time minimum wage until they graduate college or get a trade qualification.
But this is simply not the case.
In many places, kids are prohibited from being employees until they reach a certain age, but that does not prevent them from earning money.
Are you Underestimating Your Kids?
There was a time, not so long ago, when there was simply no notion of "childhood" as a separate stage of life.
Children were shorter, had smaller hands, and couldn't think so clearly, but that didn't mean that they got to sit around and be treated like pampered pets. They were a vital part of the family farm or business, and the work they did was real work that needed to be done.
Kids who grow up on farms have a head start in some ways over city kids, because they usually have meaningful work to do as part of the family enterprise from an early age.
We have moved so far away from this, partly in response to genuine concerns for the welfare of children working in factories in the 1800s, and partly as a result of compulsory education, that we are now raising a significant proportion of the population to adulthood with no experience of work, or even meaningful responsibilities.
While these kids may appear to be having a good time, many of them struggle with low self-esteem and depression from age ten onwards. Psychologically, human beings need to know that they make a difference, that they are needed and valuable, that they contribute and are part of something bigger than themselves.
Children who don't have the experience of significant adults relying on them to do their job, children who have everything provided for them, start to get anxious. Subconsciously, they know that something is expected in return.
Sometimes, that something is simply being available when the parent wants to have "quality time", which can feel to the child as though they are a form of entertainment for their parents.
Sometimes, that something is academic or sporting achievement. If you want to have an idea of how that feels to a child, you can't go past the movie The Breakfast Club. The kids in that movie have reached the age of sixteen, and they all articulate in different ways the plea to be taken seriously as individuals.
We really don't know how capable kids can be until we give them a chance to show it. The kids in our Cash Smart Kids program are taking on business ideas on an even footing with adults, and doing it well. On the internet, nobody knows how old you are ...
Whatever your challenges as a family, and all families have them, kids from the age of six or seven can actually make a concrete, practical contribution to helping meet the challenges. What's more, despite any initial grumbling about any kind of change, deep down they actually want a meaningful role in the family.
It's a good thing that poverty no longer forces children to work in terrible conditions instead of going to school, at least in most parts of the world. But let's not let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction, and arbitrarily deprive kids of the chance to make a contribution which is meaningful at an adult level, a contribution which they are perfectly able to make.