Facilitating Independence: Why We're Giving Our Daughter a Clothing Allowance

Soon after my daughter Hannah turned 12, we decided to increase her monthly allowance. We started giving our children a consistent monthly allowance two years ago. It is a small amount, which we increase every year on their birthday.

Now as Hannah is entering a new phase in life, we see how she is wanting more an more clothing. So, instead of her constantly asking us to buy this or that, we are putting the decisions into her hands. To use parenting language from Grace Church, we are working to facilitate independence in her.

Why Are We Doing This?

My wife and I have "always" been hesitant and critical of giving children too much allowance. But we're growing and learning and even eating our words a little.

Here are the reasons that we have chosen to do this:
  1. Our family budget. This will keep her from always asking us to buy her more clothing. We could never afford to give her all that she wants!
  2. Training her to budget. It's an opportunity to teach her to manage a budget and make priorities. We can't wait until she's 18 and ready to leave the house before we start this. It's another way we are Developing Our Kids to Be Leaders.
  3.  Personal responsibility. It will help her to take care of her clothing better. If she is careless with her stuff, she'll have to spend money to replace it instead of buying fun new things.

So far, she is enjoying this independence. But we have to be careful to not let it get out of control, or to give her too much freedom too quickly. That is why we came up with a set of guidelines and expectations.

Our Guidelines

Before we started giving her this extra money, we clearly communicated some guidelines to her:

  1. The extra money we give her is only for clothing and haircuts -- not for entertainment, food, etc.
  2. We will try it for a year or two, and continually evaluate. We the parents have the right to change it (or end it if it's not going well).
  3. We started with a low monthly amount. We think we are aiming a little too low, but we figured it's easier to increase the money later, rather than having to reduce it. Plus, she can always get clothing and gift cards as presents (which is what happened this past Christmas).
  4. This is not permanent. We will probably stop in a few years, when we feel that she can get a consistent job.
  5. We are only doing this with Hannah, not with our two sons. We don't feel like they need to have this independence yet, and they are not into clothing like their sister is. Usually, we have to make them get new clothes. ("No, son. You can't keep wearing underwear that is two sizes to small.")

What about you? Do you give your children a special allowance for clothing, entertainment, etc? What have you learned along the way?

For more articles on this topic, check out these posts:

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