Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: CocoCamm on September 26, 2013, 01:51:38 PM

Title: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CocoCamm on September 26, 2013, 01:51:38 PM
I know a couple Kate and Tony who have three grown children. When their children were younger Kate and Tony made their living flipping houses. Flipping a house (for those who may not know) means purchasing a house at a much reduced rate due to the home needing repairs. You then fix up the house, or hire professions to do so, then sell the house at a profit. Kate and Tony also purchased there own residences this way. Kate and Tony would do the work themselves while using the children as free labor. Every minute of spare time was spent doing this.

Fast forward a number of years and Kate and Tony's son has a tweenaged child of his own who needed supervision for the summer. Kate and Tony agree to watch him. At the same time the details are being ironed out Kate and Tony purchase another home to flip. Unbeknownst to Son, Tween is used as free labor on this project. As you can imagine Son found out right away (but after labor had been done). Luckily Son was ok with this, Tween not to much  ;D

Now I personally don't think that kids should be used as free labor in their parents ventures but I think that is a private family issue. I guess I just don't like the idea of kids being used as servants just because they are kids and not in control of their lives so to speak.

My real question is what is the obligation on a "babysitter" to let a parent know that they plan to use their child for labor? Does it matter if it's for their job as opposed to say cleaning their home, or doing yard work?

I have no children but I think it would really chap my hide to find out that my kid was used for free labor of any sorts. If you agree to watch my (non existent) child I would never imagine he or she would be put to work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Outdoor Girl on September 26, 2013, 01:57:02 PM
I have no problem with children being put to (age appropriate) work, as long as the parents are cool with it.

However, I do have a problem with it being unpaid work if it is over and above what a kid should be expected to do.  I think the tween should have been paid something.  And he should have had the option to say he didn't want to do the work (and thus, not get paid).

Growing up, my brother and I had a weekly allowance.  We were expected to do certain chores each week to get that allowance.  Every spring, we made maple syrup in our (5 acre) backyard.  It was a lot of work!  We both got what my parents called a 'sugarbush bonus'.  One year, we each got a bike.  In later years, it was cash.  It was recognition that we'd done extra work.  Sure, it was fun, too, but it was work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CakeBeret on September 26, 2013, 02:01:21 PM
As a kid, I often spent summers at my aunt's house, where I had to do most of her housekeeping. I really resented it.

If I'm being paid to watch someone's child, I would not expect them to do any chores aside from picking up after themselves. If I'm watching a relative's child as a favor, I might ask the child to help me with a chore that resulted from their visit (washing the dinner dishes, for example) but I would not see the child as a source of labor.

In your example, I kind of think Son should have anticipated that Tween would be used as a source of free labor, given his background. I know that when my son gets older, if I send him to my aunt's house for any length of time, he will probably be required to do household chores. So I think that as a parent, you kind of have a responsibility to be aware of what you might be getting your child into.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: atirial on September 26, 2013, 02:02:16 PM
I have no problems with children working with the parents' prior approval. In this case it does not sound like they had it. If my child was put to work without my consent, then there would be trouble, since I'd be concerned about injury or insurance invalidation if they got hurt.

If it's work to make a profit, especially if it saves the babysitter time and money, then the child should get something for their efforts whether it's wages or a reward. They should also have the right to say no - and if the babysitter is working are they really keeping an eye on the child?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sharnita on September 26, 2013, 02:06:27 PM
In a family situation it isn't "just because" kids have no say pver their lives, it's because the whole family, including the kids benefit. Maybe it means the parents can afford to live in an area with better schools or a.more reliable car.

In the case you.desctibe  the babysitter was grandpa and "free labor" was an established pattern of behavior. It shouldn't have been a huge surprise.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Library Dragon on September 26, 2013, 02:11:22 PM
In a family situation it isn't "just because" kids have no say pver their lives, it's because the whole family, including the kids benefit. Maybe it means the parents can afford to live in an area with better schools or a.more reliable car.

In the case you.desctibe  the babysitter was grandpa and "free labor" was an established pattern of behavior. It shouldn't have been a huge surprise.

Yes.  It's the family business, just as much as a family farm, store, or restaurant. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: lmyrs on September 26, 2013, 02:15:23 PM
I think there's a difference between a paid babysitter and a family member first of all.

Second, if the dad spent his whole life doing work on this type of thing, he really shouldn't have been surprised that the same was expected of his tween. And he likely thought that the tween could deal with it. When I was younger, I used to stay with my grandparents for a couple weeks every summer. I did a lot of the housework, helping to cook, did the vacuuming, dusting, etc. And you know what? I did it at home too, so why shouldn't I do it at grandma's? If I'd gone in and said no thank you, well, I can't even imagine the result.

Another, more relevant comparison: I grew up on a farm. My siblings and I did the work of making the farm run our whole lives. We drove trucks and tractors, hauled grain, chased cows, fed cows, harvested, seeded, etc. Sometimes, in harvest time, we even skipped school to finish the farm work. This work started at around 7-8 years old (younger for the more "domestic" tasks like feeding pets, cutting grass, clearing tables, etc). Now, a couple of my siblings are involved in farming and their children help out around the farm in age-appropriate way (though I think our definition of age-appropriate would shock some people). If I were to send my (imaginary) 13 year old to the farm for a few days (especially during harvest), you can bet that I know that kid is shovelling grain at the very least. And that's probably why I'd send him/her. It's not going to damage the kid to shovel some grain for a weekend in order to help out the family. Just like it wouldn't hurt him to hammer some nails or do some kitchen clean up.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sharnita on September 26, 2013, 02:20:06 PM
I do believe there should be balance, FWIW. If parents were keeping kids out of school, Hramdpa had him working in unsafe conditions those things would be red flags.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on September 26, 2013, 02:26:05 PM
I think its pretty traditional to put kids to work - I mean isn't that why farmers and such had lots of kids? To get more free labor on the family farm?

I also think when you start talking about "free labor" the pendulum swings both ways - were grandma & grandpa being paid to babysit the tween? Because child care is labor too. Perhaps that puts the tween in the middle of a wage issue between Kate & Tony and their grown son, but its still a valid point in this situation.

personally I think so long as the labor the tween was asked to do was age appropriate (sweeping, painting, mowing the lawn, etc) then its perfectly fine. The grown son knew this how Kate & Tony expected children to spend their free time long before he asked them to mind his child. And plus now the kid has some skills under the belt which will only serve to help them as they go through life.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 26, 2013, 02:28:50 PM
I believe children are family members and responsible for making the house/family run, at an age-appropriate level.  I dont' get paid do their housework, cook their meals and wipe their behinds. I am also not a slave, I do it because we are family and we love each other.  I also STOP doing everything for them, when they are capable of doing it for themselves. Unless Kate and Tony kept their kids locked in the basement and fed them gruel while they went on cruises, then the profit they made from flipping houses was for the kids benefit as much as their own.

If the dad was raised this way, he had a reasonable expectation that his parents would set the same expetations for his son that they set for him.  Sounds like he turned out OK and doesnt' have a problem with it.  Otherwise, why would he ask them to babysit?  Many families find projects like this to be great for bonding time and giving kids a positive self-concept, as well as skills and a "DIY" attitude.

I think it would be a good thing and an excellent teaching tool for the grandparents to offer to pay the tween for his work, which might help increase his sense of responsibility.  I also think it is OK for them to just expect him to pitch in.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CocoCamm on September 26, 2013, 02:33:52 PM
Sorry I wasn't super clear, Kate and Tony did this for a living while their children were young. Once the kids were grown they moved on to other endeavors. Cynical me thinks it's not a mere coincidence these projects stopped once the free labor was gone  ::)

So the house they purchased when Tween came to stay (this was a coincidence, paperwork on the house started before they were asked to watch Tween) was the first house in almost a decade so Son really had no reason to think Tween would be used for labor.


I only had one friend growing up whose family owned a business that the kids worked at. Kids were paid minimum wage for their efforts and treated like real employees. This sort of thing I have no issue with. Something about making your kids work for their own care (like a roof and food) just strikes me as wrong. I believe parents should provide for their children not use their kids to bolster their own income. But like I said in the OP I do believe that to be a personal family matter. I think it's a whole other ball of wax when a babysitter (family member or not) is the one doling out the work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: that_one_girl on September 26, 2013, 02:38:00 PM
It depends ... if I am asked to "babysit" I assume that I am being asked to entertain said child or help them with their homework or whatnot, especially if I am being paid.

If I am too busy to entertain the child, and a friend asks me to babysit, I'm more likely to say, "I can't babysit, I have such and such to do, but if child is self-entertaining or wants to come over and help me out with such and such (in an age appropriate way), that is fine."   Then I wouldn't be expecting to get paid at all (or at least not as much).
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Slartibartfast on September 26, 2013, 02:38:51 PM
This exact issue actually put a huge wedge between DH and his sisters, by the way.  My SILs (half-SILs, actually) are both ~15 years older than DH, so when my ILs got married they were in their early teens.  FIL had them doing a ton of renovations on rental properties - not just painting, but actual work like helping grout and lay bricks for walkways and the like.  Then by the time DH was born, my ILs were better off financially (so they could hire people to do the worst of the jobs) and FIL refused to allow his precious little boy to do any of the same work my SILs had been required to do at the same age.  DH still had to help his dad quite a bit, but he was allowed to say "no" sometimes.  The result - granted, made a lot worse by FIL being blatant about loving DH more - was a rift between DH and his half-sisters which took decades to lessen.

When Babybartfast was born, DH made very sure FIL was clear on the fact that Babybartfast was not going to be doing any roofing, drywalling, floor-tiling, etc.  She may choose to help a bit as she gets older, and she's certainly "helped" on occasion with things like raking leaves, but she's not going to be expected to spend all her free time working in my ILs "family business."
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: shhh its me on September 26, 2013, 02:39:58 PM
   I think it depends a lot on the situation.  Kids go to spend 3 weeks on aunties farm , I'd expect they might do some work. (this applies to other people who have business that the child will be going to )

 If I'm paying a "stranger" to babysit I don't expect the kids to work besides " pick up your toys."  or can you "pass me ...".  I also think day care at a facility vs in a  home is a little different too. I'd expect maybe some "help make sandwiches for lunch " and "Can you watch the little ones while I use the bathroom." I would expect the babsiter might still be " living in the home" while the kids where there and the kids might be doing chores with the babysitter ie loading a dishwasher , water the garden but not being treated like an employee and  change 20 diapers feed 4 babies twice a day and do all the related laundry of have 4 infants.

 Free or discounted babysitting I think the kids would be treated a lot more like family and may have  more significant chores.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CocoCamm on September 26, 2013, 02:41:22 PM
Oh and when I said Tween was used for free labor I mean hard labor. Demolition and it's resulting clean up, putting up sheet rock, laying down floors, acting as an apprentice for electrical and plumbing work, patching up the roof, etc.

I agree it's good practical knowledge to have. The grown kids are glad to have the knowledge but are somewhat resentful that so much of their childhood was spent doing this work. They definitely wish their parents would have just gotten "real jobs" so that they could have just been kids.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on September 26, 2013, 02:41:45 PM
Sorry I wasn't super clear, Kate and Tony did this for a living while their children were young. Once the kids were grown they moved on to other endeavors. Cynical me thinks it's not a mere coincidence these projects stopped once the free labor was gone  ::)

So the house they purchased when Tween came to stay (this was a coincidence, paperwork on the house started before they were asked to watch Tween) was the first house in almost a decade so Son really had no reason to think Tween would be used for labor.


Or maybe Kate & Tony stopped the projects because they had banked up enough money for themselves now that they weren't financially responsible for three kids, who each needed food and clothes and school supplies, and perhaps even having fun money.  the fact that the most recent house was purchased before anyone knew the tween would be around pretty much lets you knew they didn't need the kids help, even though they certainly could use it.

Its perfectly valid to have the opinion that kids should not be expected to work. But its just as valid, and quite traditional, to think kids should. Neither is right or wrong, they are just two equally valid, if opposing views on child rearing.

It sounds like this family has the expectation that family helps family - Kate & Tony feel kids should help the adults with their labors, but also K&T's grown son apparently also has a mindset that grandparents should help mind the grandchildren. What goes around come around, full circle.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MrTango on September 26, 2013, 02:50:24 PM
I think the decision of whether or not a child/teen (I'm going to use "child" in my post to mean anyone under the age of adulthood) can be expected to perform free labor for their parents is really a parenting decision, and not relevant to etiquette.

What I think is relevant is when someone who is not the child's parent (i.e. the Grandparent in this case) wants to get free labor out of a child, they need to get the parent's permission in advance.

Personally, I think the child should get some say in the matter as well, and more say as they get closer to adulthood, but again, I think that's more of a parenting issue than anything else.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 26, 2013, 03:22:08 PM
Sorry I wasn't super clear, Kate and Tony did this for a living while their children were young. Once the kids were grown they moved on to other endeavors. Cynical me thinks it's not a mere coincidence these projects stopped once the free labor was gone  ::)

So the house they purchased when Tween came to stay (this was a coincidence, paperwork on the house started before they were asked to watch Tween) was the first house in almost a decade so Son really had no reason to think Tween would be used for labor.


Or maybe Kate & Tony stopped the projects because they had banked up enough money for themselves now that they weren't financially responsible for three kids, who each needed food and clothes and school supplies, and perhaps even having fun money.  the fact that the most recent house was purchased before anyone knew the tween would be around pretty much lets you knew they didn't need the kids help, even though they certainly could use it.

Or maybe Kate & Tony were...you know...nearly grandparents, and not up the manual labor they used to put into the rehabbing themselves, so they slowed down.  I get that you don't think it's appropriate to expect children to fully participate in the family work, OP, but I doubt Kate and Tony were sitting around on lawn chairs sipping Margaritas while their 5 year old kids ran the power tools.

I also don't quite get what your comment about the parents "profiting" from the kids labor means.  A family business makes money for the family.  They were (literally) putting a roof over their children's heads.

Their kids may resent the amount of time they put into the family business...but I assure you, plenty of us whose parents had "real jobs" resent the amount of time we did not see one (or both) of our parents at all.  One of our best friends is an ER pediatrician, and I am sure her kids would much rather her be a secretary or schoolteacher who goes home every night at 5pm and is always there to tuck them in - but it is not the kids' job to dictate the parents' vocation in life.

I, personally, resent the amount of time I spent in doctor and hospital waiting rooms because of my mom's chronic illness, and I would love to have had a "regular" childhood (whatever that is).

I'm with those who say "parenting style, no one right answer."
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Zilla on September 26, 2013, 03:27:43 PM
This is a huge huge huge pet peeve of mine.  I didn't have kids so they could be free labor or babysit their siblings etc.  They are assigned specific chores around the house that they have an effect on.  For an example, they eat off dishes, so they share the chore of dishes.  But I would not have them make MY bed as they don't sleep in it.  And I don't pay them an allowance to do those chores.  It's part of living here and this is something they would have to do if they are on their own.  They get allowance that isn't tied to grades or chores.  It's a stipend.


I also don't expect them to watch their younger siblings.  If they do, they are asked and offered payment for their services.  If you want my kids to "help", ask and offer compensation.  If not, I will never cajole/order them to do it.


As for the tween, I hope the grandparents paid him/her.  If not, I would have a problem with it.  Oh and if it's a troubled tween/teen that needs tough love/work, I would be firm in having them do it but fairly and with pay.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: shhh its me on September 26, 2013, 03:35:09 PM
I think the decision of whether or not a child/teen (I'm going to use "child" in my post to mean anyone under the age of adulthood) can be expected to perform free labor for their parents is really a parenting decision, and not relevant to etiquette.

What I think is relevant is when someone who is not the child's parent (i.e. the Grandparent in this case) wants to get free labor out of a child, they need to get the parent's permission in advance.

Personally, I think the child should get some say in the matter as well, and more say as they get closer to adulthood, but again, I think that's more of a parenting issue than anything else.

I agree with you but I think the permission can be implied.   "sure you can bring the kids to the restaurant (I own) "  when you know  the babysitter had all their kids work in the restaurant , I think implies the kids will do some work.   I think  "the kids can come to work with me." may imply work.   A stay at home mom or retired grandparents I think I wold be surprised if they suddenly got a job and took the child to work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: squeakers on September 26, 2013, 03:35:36 PM
Oh and when I said Tween was used for free labor I mean hard labor. Demolition and it's resulting clean up, putting up sheet rock, laying down floors, acting as an apprentice for electrical and plumbing work, patching up the roof, etc.

I agree it's good practical knowledge to have. The grown kids are glad to have the knowledge but are somewhat resentful that so much of their childhood was spent doing this work. They definitely wish their parents would have just gotten "real jobs" so that they could have just been kids.

At the age of 12 I spent a summer with an older brother/his family and an older sister/her family.  While at the brother's I helped roof a house, scrapped out old time computer reels, and babysat their kids.  While at the sister's I demo'd a house (tearing down brick walls and then carting the bricks off), mowed lawns, babysat their kids and went pop can cruising (picking them up from the side of the road while the grown-ups drove).  I did household chores at both places. Their kids were helping too. 

The jobs put food on the table and allowed us to go to concerts, to the drive-in and to go camping.  My helping out meant the jobs got done quicker and it made me feel less of an imposition and more as part of their families.  And it meant we got to spend more time together having fun versus waiting for the grown-ups to get stuff done.

My boys know to pitch in when asked.  Whether helping concrete a drive-way or mowing someone's lawn.  Because family helps one another with the only expectation being that someday the favor will be returned in some way. Which could mean money, returned labor on a project they are doing or just doing fun things together.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 26, 2013, 03:37:47 PM
Coming from a family with strong agricultural roots, I have no problem with kids being put to work.

In my community, parent's didn't pay their kids to help out on the farm or ranch. It's just what was done. Sure if they worked to bale the neighbor's hay, they'd get paid, but not on their own family farm. And if a grandson or neice came to spend the summer at the farm, yes he or she would be put to work and it would be expected for them to contribute. Granddad would probably slip them some money at the end of the summer but no where minimum wage for all the work they had put in.

I'm not even suspicious about the parent's stopping to flip homes once part of the family work force was gone. Flipping homes was economical when the labor could be split amongst a larger labor pool. But once it was only two people, hiring labor or carrying the loan for a longer period made the revenue much less for them.

I understand your friend's being unhappy with being used for labor if all of their time was spent working to support the family. Especially if it caused them to miss out on participating in school activities or take part in other endevours that was important to them. But there are lots of teens working part time jobs who's paycheck goes to help buy food. But sometimes those are the challenges we must face even as a child.

My mom owned a store. I was used for what you'd consider "free labor" often. Christmas break was spent working there, taking inventory, wrapping presents, and restocking. My mom had the choice of hiring someone else and paying or having my sis and I work there and keeping those funds for the family. We were ok with the money staying in the family.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 26, 2013, 03:39:48 PM
I think the decision of whether or not a child/teen (I'm going to use "child" in my post to mean anyone under the age of adulthood) can be expected to perform free labor for their parents is really a parenting decision, and not relevant to etiquette.

What I think is relevant is when someone who is not the child's parent (i.e. the Grandparent in this case) wants to get free labor out of a child, they need to get the parent's permission in advance.

Personally, I think the child should get some say in the matter as well, and more say as they get closer to adulthood, but again, I think that's more of a parenting issue than anything else.

Both my DH and my father and his siblings were forced to work as children not only for their parents, but at extended family's businesses as well. All of them were under 14, which is the minimum legal employable age. Neither DH or my father and his siblings were ever paid for anything they did.

My mother grew up on a farm and did farm chores, but she and my aunt were paid at harvest season, when the grain and animals were sold.

Each family has to make that decision, but as a parent, that would not pass with me.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MommyPenguin on September 26, 2013, 03:41:32 PM
It seems like there are so many times when I read EllenS's posts and just want to say, yes, I totally agree.

I think that, in general, letting "kids be kids" sets young people up for a life in which they don't know how to work hard, where they don't work hard in college because it's just an extension of childhood, where they go out into the real world and have trouble adjusting to working hard all day because it's a completely new experience.  I think that teaching kids that they are valuable and important, that they can do real things that benefit themselves and other people, might help with some of the problems our society has with "perpetual childhood" and adults who act like children.  In fact, our childhood of play, with a few chores, is so completely different from basically how most children have lived throughout all of human history (except perhaps from the upper classes and nobility, who lived lives of leisure even as adults anyway).  It's not cruel to expect a child to do real work.  Now, if the adults really are sitting around sipping margaritas while the kids are working all the time, it's certainly going to create resentment.  But if the family as a whole works together, I think that's a good, not a bad, thing.

That said, that's how I want to raise *my* kids, but you have the right to raise yours differently.  Or, at least, you should.  So I think that it's a decision for the parents to make.  I do think that grandparents should generally talk to the parents about what they're planning to do with the grandkids if it's any different from how the parents might expect.  For instance, I would expect that if my parents watched my kids for a week, they'd probably take them bike riding, to the park, to a farm, to the mall, to various fast food playgrounds, to visit local relatives, to swim in their pool, etc.  Because these are typical things that they do with the kids.  I'd also expect them to have the kids unload or load the dishwasher, set the table, clean up after themselves, maybe even help with laundry.  So I wouldn't expect my parents to specifically inform me that they were planning to have the kids do these things.

However, I *would* expect my parents to inform/ask me if they were going to take the kids to an amusement park, to visit relatives, or go camping.  I'd expect to know if they were going to have the kids take a history class, or spend the time there painting the house or rewiring the electrical system (although since my kids are 6, 4, 3, and almost 1, I'd be a bit shocked if they *were* going to do anything like that, but let's assume my kids are older or something).  Mostly because I think that parents have the right to determine what their kids will do and how they will spend their time.  Permission is implicitly given for things that parents know their kids usually do at a grandparents' house.  But for things that a parent might not expect, permission should be explicit.  Going to play wiffle ball in the backyard?  Fine.  Going to sign my kid up for a week-long t-ball camp?  I'd like to know.  Etc.

So, to summarize, I think that the main issue here is not whether it's right or wrong to expect a child or teen to work while at a grandparents' house, but if it isn't something that has generally been expected of the child, or that the parent is likely to expect, then I think it should be made explicit and permission should be given *before* the event.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 26, 2013, 03:45:46 PM
You know what's really interesting in this thread?  Some people talk about their experiences as children being "expected" to work or "pitch in".  Other people talk about themselves or others being "forced" to work.

I think that is the whole point in a nutshell - it's not the work, it's not the money - it's the family relationship and whether the kids feel loved and included or not.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Two Ravens on September 26, 2013, 03:53:01 PM
I think there is a big difference between a "babysitter" and a grandparent who takes a child for the entire summer. When you are living with people for that amount of time, you become part of the family, and it would be completely reasonable to be expected to pitch in. The grandparents were acting "in loco parentis" for that time.

I am also a little confused as to how Son didn't realize his Tween was being put to work "until after all the work had been complete." Did he not talk to his son the entire summer?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Deetee on September 26, 2013, 03:59:27 PM
You know what's really interesting in this thread?  Some people talk about their experiences as children being "expected" to work or "pitch in".  Other people talk about themselves or others being "forced" to work.

I think that is the whole point in a nutshell - it's not the work, it's not the money - it's the family relationship and whether the kids feel loved and included or not.

Excellent point. It's not the work but the feeling behind the work.

And honestly, it's true in adulthood too.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 26, 2013, 04:03:09 PM
You know what's really interesting in this thread?  Some people talk about their experiences as children being "expected" to work or "pitch in".  Other people talk about themselves or others being "forced" to work.

I think that is the whole point in a nutshell - it's not the work, it's not the money - it's the family relationship and whether the kids feel loved and included or not.

Yes. There's a difference between, "Hey, want to help grampa knock down some walls? It'll be good experience for you, and it'll be fun!" and "OK, you're here, there's the tools, and I expect you to be finished by lunchtime. Then, I'll set you your new work. Money for doing this? You're lucky I'm feeding you." Most kids will enjoy working with their parents or grandparents, if they feel included and appreciated. It sounds like the boy was not feeling this.

A tween is a kid no more than 12. I'd be unhappy if it were my child, because of the danger involved in such work, unless s/he was being *very* closely supervised. (I'd not be happy if my 17 year old was involved in construction/demolition without my prior approval, in fact. One severed finger can eat up all the profits in the flip, I'd imagine.)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on September 26, 2013, 04:05:00 PM
The problem I see in the whole thing is that the grandparents didn't clear things before the visit, and that's the part that would bother me.  We sent one of the kids to spend a month with the grands this summer, and he spent a fair chunk of his time helping out around their house, but we knew and approved it before it happened.  If we had planned a social visit only to find that he'd been put to the amount of work described in the OP, I'd have been upset that it wasn't run past me first.

I also noticed a lot of people talking about how the kids' labor helps the whole family.  Given that this boy doesn't normally live with his grandparents, that changes that concept in a significant way, to the point where an example about helping mom in the family store doesn't parallel.  Again, it's not the concept of work that bothers me, it's not informing his parents before it all happened so they can make the decision.  I agree that the length of his stay makes pitching in to help a reasonable thing, but there's a limit and I think that flipping a house is way past that limit.  That's a full time job, like me asking a family member if I can stay with them for a weekend, and them then telling me I had to lay a new floor in the kitchen while I was there because I should "pitch in".

Virg
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Yvaine on September 26, 2013, 04:07:32 PM
I think there is a big difference between a "babysitter" and a grandparent who takes a child for the entire summer. When you are living with people for that amount of time, you become part of the family, and it would be completely reasonable to be expected to pitch in. The grandparents were acting "in loco parentis" for that time.

I am also a little confused as to how Son didn't realize his Tween was being put to work "until after all the work had been complete." Did he not talk to his son the entire summer?

This is a good point and it makes me wonder if Grandpa knew Son wouldn't be happy about the work--it seems like it was kept from Son by both Grandpa and Kid (the latter maybe out of pride or not knowing it might be potentially controversial).
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 26, 2013, 04:13:19 PM
I also noticed a lot of people talking about how the kids' labor helps the whole family.  Given that this boy doesn't normally live with his grandparents, that changes that concept in a significant way, to the point where an example about helping mom in the family store doesn't parallel. 

Yes, there are kind of two tracks going on - one on the concept of kids working in a family business (the grown son's experience), and one track on whether it was appropriate as grandparents.

I think it was reasonable for the grandparents to do this, but yes there should have been discussion up front.  I also am not sure whether a tween boy complaining about work, means he did not feel loved. Every 9-12 year old in the world thinks their life is "unfair", but not all of them are right.  OP did say that the boy's father did NOT have a problem with the grandparents' decision.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Peregrine on September 26, 2013, 05:02:30 PM
I don't think Grandpa was out of line here.  But then again, I come from a family with agricultural roots and a strong DIY background.  I was given a lot of chores, large and small that I'm sure many people would think were beyond the norm for kids.  Mostly as a teenager.  I was generally compensated with extra allowance or an extra vacation treat, but not always.  In my family its just what we did, so I never questioned it.

As a grown up, I'm really glad that I got all of that DIY and landscaping experience.  I know how to maintain my home, I can handle minor electrical work, re-do my landscaping etc.  I have already started putting my 2 and a half year old to work in the back yard, while we garden.  He helps remove rocks (little ones) from the garden, and picks up weeds and puts them in the wheelbarrow.  His chores and expectations will get more complex as he gets older.  But right now, I'm hopefully sowing the seeds for a productive kid that will help out when asked (told). If I wait until he's 7 to try to get him to do things, he's never going to want to do them.  He also is learning indoor chores, he helps me with the laundry (matching socks), clears the dinner table, and helps sweep the kitchen...it's just the expectation we have as a family.  When he's older, I will be sending him to help out at his Grandma and Grandpa's house with basic yard work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Isilleke on September 26, 2013, 06:02:11 PM
I think that expecting children to help out isn't out of line.

What was out of line was expecting it and not asking the parents and teen for permission. I didn't mind helping out at home because it's just what you do. Parents may pay for the house, but it's the children's home as well.

A couple of weeks ago I had to babysit my sisters children for 4 days and 3 nights. My friends all asked me how much I was getting for it while I wasn't expecting anything. In the end I did get something I was planning to buy already from my sister, so I was pleasantly surprised.
So I can see both points of view. On one hand it's your family and it's normal to help, but on the other hand when they are telling you to give up basically all of your time, it does become more than "just pitching in".

Every family has to decide for themselves how much involvement they want from their children, but I do think that from a certain age, the child should have a say as well. Especially when they come at an age where they could spend that time at a job where they could actually earn money.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: blarg314 on September 26, 2013, 08:27:43 PM

There's a matter of degree as well.

Expecting kids to help out around the home, or pitching in at the family business is reasonable - so is expecting older siblings to help with the younger ones.

Expecting a child to work two full time jobs, I think, is not, and that's what it comes to if they are attending school full time, and spending all their out of school hours working at a family business.

In the past, kids working on the farm or in the home business was a normal part of life. It was also normal for kids to be kept home from school during the harvest or to leave school at age 15 or younger to work, or to leave school if they were needed to help at home.  Going to school was often seen as secondary to supporting the family, unless the family was well to do - my one grandfather had to quit school to work because the family needed the money, the other was raised on a farm.

Of course, the kids were also being trained in a trade that would subsequently earn them a living, even with minimal schooling (or they were girls, and weren't expected to earn a living in the first place). This is no longer true - practical experience in carpentry or running a business won't get a young adult far without at least a high school diploma, and generally post-secondary training as well. 

In modern society, attending school is considered a child's primary job. It is illegal to take your child out of school to help support the family, or to have them look after younger siblings full time, and children are expected to attend school, and do homework, unless ill - it's busy season at the family business is not an accepted excuse.

In the particular case here - the grandson was being used for hard labour without his parents' permission or knowledge. He wasn't being paid, by the sounds of it.

And the level of what he was being asked to do may or may not have been appropriate for his age. The OP said "tween" - so probably about 12 or 13 years old, likely with no particular training in construction. He's being asked to do roof work, heavy construction, electrical and plumbing work, which is pretty intense and potentially physical dangerous work, particularly for someone with no training.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: LifeOnPluto on September 26, 2013, 10:25:57 PM
I think there has to be balance. IMO, it's fine for kids to pitch in with normal household chores, and some yardwork, etc.

But I think that expecting a child to re-fit a house is a bit much. As a PP said, it sounds like this was a full-time job. I think that kids need some time to decompress during the school holidays. They shouldn't be working every single day. Especially if they're not getting any benefit (either direct or indirect) in return.

And I think the grandparents were definitely rude for not clearing their plans with their son, before their grandson came to stay.

Cynical me also wonders what would have happened if the boy had suffered an accident whilst working? Would the grandparents have wllingly paid his medical bills and other expenses? Or would they leave that up to the boy's parents?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sophia on September 26, 2013, 10:42:09 PM
I am totally with the grandparents on this.  I see nothing wrong with a tween doing demo work, or other manual labor.  That is old enough to do that sort of thing under supervision.  It was also summer, so there was no school going on.  Should the kid have been left at the Grandparent's house alone while the grandparent's were supervising work on the house?  Also, the kid was a tween who "needed supervision."  I assume that the parents didn't spend the summer cruising around the world, but instead went to work and came home.  A tween that couldn't be trusted home alone during the day, is a kid that could REALLY benefit
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: nolechica on September 26, 2013, 11:07:10 PM
I worked for my parents in their office, but NEVER for free.  Work deserves money regardless of age.  Also, the kid should be allowed to refuse.  I was willing to do chores as a kid, but always had an allowance. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Psychopoesie on September 27, 2013, 12:51:23 AM
I remember helping out at visits to my uncle's dairy farm from a really young age. This included steering the tractor while uncle pulled bales off the back, using the high pressure hose to clean out the dairy yard after milking, and other daily chores like feeding the chooks. It was fun and felt good to be useful.

When my cousin's tween-ish kids stayed for a few weeks over summer holidays, I took time off work to take them round tourist spots, treated them to meals out and generally made sure they had some fun. I also got them to help with some domestic cleanup work (tiding up books, CDs & some kitchen stuff) that I wanted to do while I had the time off. I ended up giving them about $10 spending money each as a thank you. They have way wore chores at home and their mum was surprised I paid them at all.

I guess what I'm saying is it depends on family dynamics and expectations. If I had been sent to stay with rellos (as a kid) who were doing that sort of work, I'd have expected to pitch in somehow. If not with the harder demo stuff, then fetching and carrying, tidying up, making lunch or cups of tea for people working, whatever. Sounds like this family has a similar outlook.

However, I'd also expect to get some time off to do summer holiday things and to just play. Because I was just a kid. I'd also hope the grandparents would take some time out to do fun, non-work stuff, where they could.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: hannahmollysmom on September 27, 2013, 01:15:09 AM
I understand the Tween wasn't happy, but is it because he expected to lay on the couch and watch TV or play video games while there? I'm not trying to be rude, but I raised two kids, and they thought summer vacation from school meant VACATION from doing anything they didn't like to do.

Of course, it didn't happen that way, and there was a lot of grumbling.

Before I can make a stance on this issue, I would need to know how many hours this Tween had to work a day, or how many days in a row. Did they also do fun things like go out to eat, or go to a lake for a day?

I see kids fly by here on skate boards without protection. How can this be less dangerous than what the grandparents had him do?

Not trying to be a devil's advocate, but there is more than one side to a story.

JMO
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Ryuugan80 on September 27, 2013, 07:43:27 AM
I think we also need to keep in mind the difference between growing up with that kind of labor and being tossed into it. Its one thing to have your little kids start off with small tasks and work up to larger ones and another to have a child who has never done labor near this level starting out out of nowhere. Personally, i as a child would have deeply deeply resented the grandparents and would avoid going to visit if this is what i had to look forward to. I'm sure he would have preferred to just skip the break altogether.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 27, 2013, 08:09:05 AM
I think we also need to keep in mind the difference between growing up with that kind of labor and being tossed into it. Its one thing to have your little kids start off with small tasks and work up to larger ones and another to have a child who has never done labor near this level starting out out of nowhere. Personally, i as a child would have deeply deeply resented the grandparents and would avoid going to visit if this is what i had to look forward to. I'm sure he would have preferred to just skip the break altogether.
Some Tweens would see the request to do hard work as validation in your belief in their abilities.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: BeagleMommy on September 27, 2013, 08:09:47 AM
As others have said, I have no problem with a kid being put to work if the family needs help.  However, I do think it would have taken five seconds for K&T to say "Hey Son, we're in the process of flipping a house.  How about Tween give us a hand with some of the stuff that needs to be done?"

Grandparents or not, you do not put someone else's kid to work without parental permission.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 08:28:32 AM
Work deserves money regardless of age.

Or, at least, a reward of some sort. Being put to do heavy work for someone other than your parents, with no reward for what you do, is going to cause you to become very jaded.

The child is effectively being asked to pay for his own care, rather than his parents, which does not seem particularly fair.

Quote
I see kids fly by here on skate boards without protection. How can this be less dangerous than what the grandparents had him do?

This is a straw man. I see adults riding bicycles, even motorcycles, without protective gear. That doesn't mean we should throw out occupational health and safety regulations.

Just because teens are often cavalier over their own safety, doesn't mean that adults can say, "Oh, well, I won't worry about you cutting off a hand or electrocuting yourself with power tools that you're not familiar with, and which are often designed for someone larger and stronger than you."

There is currently a lot of concern about children working on farms, because the death/injury rate is much higher than for adult workers. I would suspect that if the DIY construction industry were large enough, and used children, we would see the same pattern.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Two Ravens on September 27, 2013, 08:45:02 AM
I understand the Tween wasn't happy, but is it because he expected to lay on the couch and watch TV or play video games while there? I'm not trying to be rude, but I raised two kids, and they thought summer vacation from school meant VACATION from doing anything they didn't like to do.


I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: LadyL on September 27, 2013, 08:57:02 AM
I feel like two of my values are in conflict here - teaching kids a strong work ethic, vs. having strong communication, transparency, and trust.

A family expecting their tween was going to the grandparent's house to relax and be spoiled with trips to get ice cream or the beach, and finding out they were doing hard labor instead? Not cool.

A family expecting the tween to be doing age appropriate hard labor as a learning experience, with some amount of compensation (like a trip to get ice cream or to the beach)? Fine by me.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 08:59:13 AM
I understand the Tween wasn't happy, but is it because he expected to lay on the couch and watch TV or play video games while there? I'm not trying to be rude, but I raised two kids, and they thought summer vacation from school meant VACATION from doing anything they didn't like to do.


I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents.

Doing chores and looking after themselves /= doing unpaid labour on a project that is not directly related to them, that an adult would be paid a considerable amount for.

"Helping" is doing the dishes, making beds, cleaning up after themselves, maybe cooking a meal now and then. This is something outside that.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Dindrane on September 27, 2013, 09:05:39 AM
I think that, in general, letting "kids be kids" sets young people up for a life in which they don't know how to work hard, where they don't work hard in college because it's just an extension of childhood, where they go out into the real world and have trouble adjusting to working hard all day because it's a completely new experience.  I think that teaching kids that they are valuable and important, that they can do real things that benefit themselves and other people, might help with some of the problems our society has with "perpetual childhood" and adults who act like children.  In fact, our childhood of play, with a few chores, is so completely different from basically how most children have lived throughout all of human history (except perhaps from the upper classes and nobility, who lived lives of leisure even as adults anyway).  It's not cruel to expect a child to do real work.  Now, if the adults really are sitting around sipping margaritas while the kids are working all the time, it's certainly going to create resentment.  But if the family as a whole works together, I think that's a good, not a bad, thing.

I don't agree with this at all. The amount of free work kids do for their families does not determine how hard they are willing to work as adults, or how successful they will be. It's a matter of parenting and setting expectations.

I grew up in a "let kids be kids" household. I barely did chores, and what chores I did do were things like doing my own laundry, not doing laundry for the family. I'm sure many people would think my parents were crazy for giving me an allowance basically for free, since there wasn't anything in particular I had to do in order to receive it, and I never had it taken away from me. My parents paid, in full, for my college education and living expenses, and gave me my first car.

And yet, I always worked very hard in school, and I work very hard as an adult now. I learned the value of work not from being expected to do significant work around the house for free, but by being expected to find and keep paid employment when I wasn't in school. I got my first summer job when I was 15. Starting as a sophomore in college, my parents expected me to work in a part time job during the school year as well. The money I earned was mine, but as my ability to earn income increased, my parents' expectations about what I would pay for out of my own funds also grew.

The value of work, and the value of working hard, can be taught in a lot of different ways. Some families do it by expecting significant contributions from their children without monetary compensation. Other families do it by expecting their children to work for pay, either within the family or outside of it. Both methods can produce adults who are productive members of society, and can produce adults who have no sense of the value of work and refuse to do it whenever possible. The work itself is not the determining factor in that.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on September 27, 2013, 09:06:36 AM
hannahmollysmom wrote:

"I see kids fly by here on skate boards without protection. How can this be less dangerous than what the grandparents had him do?"

If he injured himself on a skateboard the insurance company is unlikely to deny coverage on the basis that workman's comp should cover the claim.  Doing demolition work on a house for people with a history of flipping houses for profit is likely to draw that sort of response.  As Twik said, just because kids will tend to ingore their own safety doesn't make it reasonable to put them at risk, and flipping a house can be dangerous work for someone that young.

Two Ravens wrote:

"I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents."

The two things here that miss the heart of it are that it wasn't his parents telling him to do the work, and flipping a house is a lot more work than doing the dishes.  Your example would parallel if he was asked to do the dishes at a commercial restaurant for a full work shift every day, which is far beyond what most people would consider normal for a tween.

Virg
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Two Ravens on September 27, 2013, 09:13:48 AM
Two Ravens wrote:

"I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents."

The two things here that miss the heart of it are that it wasn't his parents telling him to do the work, and flipping a house is a lot more work than doing the dishes.  Your example would parallel if he was asked to do the dishes at a commercial restaurant for a full work shift every day, which is far beyond what most people would consider normal for a tween.

Virg

Virg, I don't understand how "it wasn't his parents" argument applies. It was his grandparents, whom he was living with for the summer. They are, in effect, acting as his parents as his parents aren't around. The grandparents were the ones feeding him and keeping a roof over his head.

Perhaps the amount of work being asked was excessive, but that doesn't mean they didn't have a right to ask him anything.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on September 27, 2013, 09:21:52 AM
Two Ravens wrote:

"Virg, I don't understand how "it wasn't his parents" argument applies. It was his grandparents, whom he was living with for the summer. They are, in effect, acting as his parents as his parents aren't around. The grandparents were the ones feeding him and keeping a roof over his head."

The point is that the grands should have asked his actual parents before doing this, because they aren't his parents and asking would have taken very little effort.  As I said above, we sent one of our kids to stay with the grands, and I left reasonable stuff up to them, but if they had wanted to put him to full time employment on what's essentially a construction site, I'd have fully expected them to ask me first because that's far beyond what I would reasonably expect a tween to be doing and it's frankly a liability nightmare.  I agree that the grands didn't really need to ask the boy's consent before putting him to this level of work, but they most certainly did need to ask his parents' consent before doing so.

Virg
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Zilla on September 27, 2013, 09:29:07 AM
I feel like two of my values are in conflict here - teaching kids a strong work ethic, vs. having strong communication, transparency, and trust.

A family expecting their tween was going to the grandparent's house to relax and be spoiled with trips to get ice cream or the beach, and finding out they were doing hard labor instead? Not cool.

A family expecting the tween to be doing age appropriate hard labor as a learning experience, with some amount of compensation (like a trip to get ice cream or to the beach)? Fine by me.


The major difference for me and what would be happening in MY household is this:  Give the tween a choice.  Let him/her "work" for the rewards of ice cream/beach/vegging on days to watch TV and play games.  If he/she refuses, then they come along with a book, paper and pen.  If they agree, then they learn ethics of working and rewards.  If they don't, they see the consequence of not working.  Both are valuable lessons.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 27, 2013, 09:32:24 AM
I feel like two of my values are in conflict here - teaching kids a strong work ethic, vs. having strong communication, transparency, and trust.

A family expecting their tween was going to the grandparent's house to relax and be spoiled with trips to get ice cream or the beach, and finding out they were doing hard labor instead? Not cool.

A family expecting the tween to be doing age appropriate hard labor as a learning experience, with some amount of compensation (like a trip to get ice cream or to the beach)? Fine by me.

Based on the father's experience living growing up with his parents, I can't imagine why he would think that a summer break there would consist of relaxing, the beach, and ice cream. 

If my parent's were still alive and I sent my son for a month with my Dad I would make sure he knew his week would consist of hauling hay, feeding cows, mowing pastures, cutting underbrush, and probably a how bunch of work in the garden and maybe even helping Dad out with some home repairs. And no, I wouldn't expect or want him to be compensated by anything other than some really awesome meals my mom would cook, going on some fun fishing trips, learning to drive a tractor and probably the truck on the ranch, and maybe doing some skeet shooting.

While I think the GP's should have given a head's up about the GP's plans to flip a house, the GP's may have saw it as an opprtuntity to expose their grandson to some pretty useful skills and may have taken on the flip as an opportunity to teach him and keep him busy. I can almost hear the GP's having a morning coffee conversation.
GM: What are we going to do with the boy for a month to keep him entertained?
GP: I don't know, we can't have him just sitting watching TV all day. He'll be bored to death.
GM: With our kids we always had a house project to keep them occupied.
GP: Well maybe we should flip a small house. It'll give him something to do and we can teach him some carepentry and plumbing skills.
 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 27, 2013, 09:44:14 AM
It should not have been the grandparents decision to have a tween (under age 13) doing heavy demolition and building work. Just the liability issues are paramount.

They would not see my child again alone if that happened in my family.

I believe in the value of work. My DS has been doing chores since he could walk, but he didn't get an allowance in return until he was 7. As part of his responsibilities he had to empty the garbage from all the small cans around the house, empty the dryer and bring the clothes to the bedroom they belonged to, and do all of his homework without complaint. At age 14, he started working his own summer job as a camp counselor in training as a volunteer position. This summer, age 15, he was a program counselor and worked 8 weeks for pay. During the school year, school is his primary job, but he has responsibilities and chores he must do to keep other activities occurring.

Fun activities are just as good as pay in my opinion, Hmmmm. I would agree that work on the farm is balanced out by shooting, learning to drive and fishing.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 09:44:50 AM
I have a certain view of parenting and family, and a certain visualizatin of this situation (as we all do), and I really don't think the grandparents did anything wrong.

1) Yes, a heads-up to the parents would be Best Practices. The grandparents assumed that the parents were okay with it, rather than explicitly discussing it - not Good Form.  However, let's not lose sight of the fact that their assumption was, in fact, correct.  The parents did NOT have a problem with it. Perhaps this speaks to how well they know and understand their son and daughter in law, or a certain level of shared attitudes/values in the family. Not every family has that, but apparently this family does.

2) I think the hyperbole about "being electrocuted" is overdone.  Doing "apprentice electrician" work does not generally involve live current - he was probably bending conduit and stringing unconnected wire, handing off tools, etc.  Patching a roof can be done from inside or outside, though an 11-12 year old kid on a roof with supervision does not strike me as radically more dangerous than anything else an 11-12 year old kid would be likely to do WITHOUT supervision.

3) There is a big parenting philosophy split here, as well.  If a 9-12 year old kid is living with his grandparents for the summer, and Grandma and Grandpa are going over to work on their new house today, no.  I don't think the kid is entitled to say "You have to stay home and watch me play video games, or you have to take me to the zoo, because I don't feel like helping." Neither do I think he is entitled to sit around on his kiester while his what? 60-70 year old? grandparents are working.  That dog won't hunt in my family.  This is not child abuse or exploitation, this is family respect, and grownups being the leaders and decisionmakers of what the family is doing.  So it should be. (in my view).  I really, really doubt that the kid's mom and dad would have sent him to his grandparents' for the whole summer if it were some kind of Dickensian workhouse.  The dad grew up with these folks, the mom knows them and has heard all the dad's stories - and they chose the grandparents as safe, appropriate and caring people to keep their son for three months. 

I do think the boy has the right to say, "I'm scared to go up on the roof" or "this sledgehammer is too heavy for me," etc, - he has some voice in what tasks are appropriate or that he is able to do.  I also think it would be good if the grandparents paid him.  However, surely a tween is old enough to understand that the nice house he lives in with Grandma and Grandpa, and the nice food on the table, and his nice Christmas presents, etc - all exist because of this work.  Enjoying the fruits of your labors is one of the greatest and most reliable pleasures in life, and the "fruits" are not always financial - sometimes they are tangible and direct. I don't think its ever to early to start drawing those connections.




Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MindsEye on September 27, 2013, 09:55:56 AM
If my parent's were still alive and I sent my son for a month with my Dad I would make sure he knew his week would consist of hauling hay, feeding cows, mowing pastures, cutting underbrush, and probably a how bunch of work in the garden and maybe even helping Dad out with some home repairs. And no, I wouldn't expect or want him to be compensated by anything other than some really awesome meals my mom would cook, going on some fun fishing trips, learning to drive a tractor and probably the truck on the ranch, and maybe doing some skeet shooting.

Indeed.  When I was growing up my great-aunt Mary and great-uncle Alvin, owned a small dairy farm in Amish country.  All of us cousins were welcome to spend time in the summer with them on the farm... BUT if you went, you worked on the farm right beside Alvin and Mary.  Don't want to pitch in with the farm work?  Then don't go to the farm.  Go to the farm and refuse to pitch in?  Get sent home.  (Yes, this did happen once... and Mary and Alvin let it be known that the cousin who pulled that particular stunt wasn't welcome back.) 

BUT, again... that was about setting expectations.  Everyone knew upfront that if they went to the farm, they weren't going to spend all day every day paddling in the duck pond or napping under the fruit trees.

In the case of the OP... the son knew how his parents were, and he was fine with the work that his kid did, so one imagines that he must have had a pretty good idea about what the kid's life would be like while staying with his parents.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 10:22:20 AM
2) I think the hyperbole about "being electrocuted" is overdone.  Doing "apprentice electrician" work does not generally involve live current - he was probably bending conduit and stringing unconnected wire, handing off tools, etc.  Patching a roof can be done from inside or outside, though an 11-12 year old kid on a roof with supervision does not strike me as radically more dangerous than anything else an 11-12 year old kid would be likely to do WITHOUT supervision.

That's if it's done properly. We don't know for sure if the grandparents are absolutely fanatical about safety, or are the sort who check to see if wires are live by touching them.

I know a young roofer who had to quit his job after he took a fall while working, so even adults can fall. I would be livid if someone took my child up on a roof without my express permission.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CocoCamm on September 27, 2013, 10:23:19 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone they have certainly been very thought provoking. I don't have time to post a complete response right now but I did want to answer a few questions.

Son found out about the work the day it began but after the days work was done. This was my real issue. I feel like a parent should be asked beforehand if it's ok that their kid spend all day doing labor.

The house was worked on at least five days a week for about eight hours a day so this was a full time job that Tween was tasked with.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 10:27:38 AM
Indeed.  When I was growing up my great-aunt Mary and great-uncle Alvin, owned a small dairy farm in Amish country.  All of us cousins were welcome to spend time in the summer with them on the farm... BUT if you went, you worked on the farm right beside Alvin and Mary.  Don't want to pitch in with the farm work?  Then don't go to the farm.  Go to the farm and refuse to pitch in?  Get sent home.  (Yes, this did happen once... and Mary and Alvin let it be known that the cousin who pulled that particular stunt wasn't welcome back.) 

BUT, again... that was about setting expectations.  Everyone knew upfront that if they went to the farm, they weren't going to spend all day every day paddling in the duck pond or napping under the fruit trees.

In the case of the OP... the son knew how his parents were, and he was fine with the work that his kid did, so one imagines that he must have had a pretty good idea about what the kid's life would be like while staying with his parents.

The thing here is that the boy apparently didn't have the choice you indicate. If he didn't work, what were the consequences?

I have to say that I would expect a preteen to do chores associated with their normal living, like cleaning or cooking. But being required to do professional-level work, with no reward at the end of it(he's not even going to be living in the flipped house when it's finished) seems unfair. I don't see how this creates a "work ethic," because it breeds resentment of work, rather than the sensation, "hey, if I work really hard, good things result!"
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 10:34:49 AM

The thing here is that the boy apparently didn't have the choice you indicate. If he didn't work, what were the consequences?


I would expect, if his parents were forced to change their plans or suddenly make alternate arrangements for the summer, that the boy would be receiving a rather heavy consequence when he got home.  Which, in my mind, would be appropriate for bratty behavior.

I know this is a matter of personal opinion, but my personal opinion is that any ablebodied young man of this age, who would refuse to help his grandparents, or look them in the eye and say "no" when asked to work, has been extremely poorly brought up.  I am glad to see that the young man in this story was brought up better.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 10:51:31 AM
From what I have read, the father had no problem with what transpired.  It is the OP who has a problem with it but its really not an etiquette issue.
 
If she doesn't want to raise her kids that way, that's her prerogative.  But, the disagreements here are about oarenting style not etiquette.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: TootsNYC on September 27, 2013, 10:58:32 AM
So Tween needed supervision for the summer.

Grandma and Grandpa were going to be very busy renovating the house.

What was Tween supposed to do with his time? How were they going to supervise him?

Having him work with them meant he was supervised. And occupied with something educational.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Promise on September 27, 2013, 11:04:52 AM
Look at the bigger picture. Is it better for tween to sit in a house playing games or trolling the computer? Or is it better to learn a trade and become a useful member of his family? Using children for labor isn't evil necessarily, it's normal in most homes. Children need useful things to do in order to become a productive person in our culture. If someone asks me to take in a child, that child will be treated as one of my own and will help out alongside everyone else in my house. Even my sons' teen friends, when they came over, helped out with things if I needed an extra set of hands. No one ever stopped coming over because they were put to work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sharnita on September 27, 2013, 11:05:42 AM
So his parents got free childcare (including room and board) and he paid with labor. Maybe it is his parents who should be paying him if they feel he deserves it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: delabela on September 27, 2013, 11:07:31 AM
Maybe it's because my SO is involved in construction, but I can't get too worked up about the danger aspect - if it's under the supervision of people who know what they're doing (and I assume people who flipped houses for years do), then that doesn't seem like a huge risk.

If I ask a family member to watch my child, that family member is in charge.  They do not have to run everything by me.  This is because I only choose people to watch my children who I believe have good judgment and who are familiar with my expectations and parenting beliefs.

I would not expect my child to be paid in the circumstance described in the OP.  They didn't conscript him, it's more like they agreed to have him along for the ride.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: esposita on September 27, 2013, 11:13:35 AM
I too find myself agreeing with everything that EllenS is saying here. :)

Also, five eight-hour days spent in learning home construction by immersion?! My kids aren't 12 yet, but I think I'd pay someone who gave them that experience. It will be invaluable later in life.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 11:13:49 AM
I just find the whole concept of monetizing family relationships very very strange. The grandparents weren't "babysitting" as paid caregivers, they were having a relationship with their grandson, by including him in their life.  Their life includes a lot of hard work - apparently that is a big part of who they are and the way they live.
The grandson wasn't working for his grandparents as a paid laborer.  He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: delabela on September 27, 2013, 11:23:33 AM
I just find the whole concept of monetizing family relationships very very strange. The grandparents weren't "babysitting" as paid caregivers, they were having a relationship with their grandson, by including him in their life.  Their life includes a lot of hard work - apparently that is a big part of who they are and the way they live.
The grandson wasn't working for his grandparents as a paid laborer.  He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities.

This articulates something I was thinking much better than I could.  Well said.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MissRose on September 27, 2013, 11:23:49 AM
From elementary age and on, both my sister and I were to help with household chores even if they were as simple as feeding the dog and cat.  My mother started us on simpler things like dusting or vacuuming then by the time we were teenagers, we were capable of doing all of the housework which was a foundation for us for the day we would be living on our own.  Most of the time we were not given compensation for the work & my parents did not give us an allowance.  We were also asked to assist with things like setting the table or washing dishes when we were visiting our grandparents.

I still resent the day my mother had me, my younger sister and my dad do cleanup duty after my uncle's wedding at the reception hall when I was around 15 or 16.  I have no idea if the catering place was to do that but my mother had us 3 and her doing the work like sweeping, picking up trash, etc.  We got done around 2am then had to get up 5 hours later to go to Sunday morning Mass.  I know I was not happy with that arrangement.  I did not mind assisting my aunt with slicing wedding cake and placing slices on the small paper plates after the bridal couple cut the cake but she asked nicely compared to my mother who treated us the opposite way.  My sister and I did not mind helping some with decorations and setup of the hall ahead of time but our mother was not always there which made it nicer.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on September 27, 2013, 11:25:08 AM
Audrey Quest wrote:

"If she doesn't want to raise her kids that way, that's her prerogative.  But, the disagreements here are about oarenting style not etiquette."

Not all of them.  My argument has always been to the etiquette of the situation, and my take is that the grandparents failed at their etiquette by not asking the boy's parents before having him do a full time job, especially a job that would be a violation of labor laws if the grandparents told anyone in authority about it and most especially a job that it's nearly a forgone conclusion that the boy's health care policy wouldn't cover.

Promise wrote:

"Even my sons' teen friends, when they came over, helped out with things if I needed an extra set of hands. No one ever stopped coming over because they were put to work."

Did you ever ask one of them to build you a shed or paint your house?  The OP is talking about a full time job here.


esposita wrote:

"Also, five eight-hour days spent in leaning home construction by immersion?! My kids aren't 12 yet, but I think I'd pay someone who gave them that experience. It will be invaluable later in life."

Then consider that your kid could get hurt and your health insurance carrier would tell you to get stuffed because the contractor insurance was responsible for the bills.  It'd be even better when whatever contractor policy the grandparents had tells you to get stuffed too because there's no way any construction insurance underwriter would ever be willing to insure a tween aged full time worker.  When something as simple as a broken toe could cost you into five figures and a major injury could easily bankrupt you, would you still be so willing? 

EllenS wrote:

"He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities."

He was working in an environment so hazardous that people who are trained and do it for a living have awards to give out when injuries don't happen.  This particular example is too far-reaching because of the amount and nature of the work.  I fully agree that kids should be willing to help out, but I've always maintained that this example just goes too far.

Virg
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: LadyClaire on September 27, 2013, 11:29:00 AM
I did chores as a kid and teenager, and I also helped my dad a lot with DIY projects. Including building an extension on the house, putting up a shed, re-wiring the house, and replacing a lot of the pipes in the house.

If my dad hadn't had such a nasty temper and expected me to be able to do things that were unreasonable (like expecting a 12 year old girl to be able to help lift and carry extremely heavy things that two full grown men would have trouble with), it would've been enjoyable and I would have gotten a lot of value out of the experience. Learning to do these tasks will help the son in the future. As long as the grandparents didn't task him with things he wasn't physically capable of doing, or couldn't do without risking serious injury, and as long as he was allowed to take breaks (meals, bathroom, etc, which I wasn't allowed to do) then I see no issue with it. One day the tween will be a man who will probably own a house that will need repairs done to it. Having a basic knowledge of how electrical wiring and plumbing works could save him a lot of money.

I do think the grandparents should have cleared it with the parents first, though.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: padua on September 27, 2013, 11:30:41 AM
the entire concept of "let kids be kids" is fairly new. maybe 1940's? so many families still adhere to the importance of work and helping the family. it's certainly a first world luxury. so i agree that whether or not children are expected to work and whether or not it's for pay is a family/cultural decision. because of the lack of agreement here (it seems pretty split so far), i think it's safe to say that it's certainly not a cultural expectation to make kids work nor is it an expectation to expect children not to work. therefore it's a matter of preference not etiquette.

and it may just be in that family that grandparents do get to make decisions regarding their charges. if the father was okay with it, who are we to say that is an inappropriate decision? many grandparents help 'parent' their grandchildren. my family is one of those 'it takes a village to raise a child' families and if my children were staying with one of my siblings or with my parents i would absolutely trust them to make good decisions regarding my kids. but that's just within the context of my family.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on September 27, 2013, 11:46:47 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone they have certainly been very thought provoking. I don't have time to post a complete response right now but I did want to answer a few questions.

Son found out about the work the day it began but after the days work was done. This was my real issue. I feel like a parent should be asked beforehand if it's ok that their kid spend all day doing labor.

The house was worked on at least five days a week for about eight hours a day
so this was a full time job that Tween was tasked with.

So the kid's dad found out the first day (admittedly after the work was done) and let the work continue all summer, 5 days a week? Sounds to me like the parents were A-OK with it since they didn't put a stop to it before the second day started.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: shhh its me on September 27, 2013, 11:59:41 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone they have certainly been very thought provoking. I don't have time to post a complete response right now but I did want to answer a few questions.

Son found out about the work the day it began but after the days work was done. This was my real issue. I feel like a parent should be asked beforehand if it's ok that their kid spend all day doing labor.

The house was worked on at least five days a week for about eight hours a day so this was a full time job that Tween was tasked with.

The bolded is actually irrelevant IMHO,  after the first day he was given permission.   The first day they didn't have permission but after that it was a parenting decision and has nothing to do with etiquette.

I think if grandpa said " hey we are buying a new flip house" or anything like it,  then not expressly saying " JR will be working on the flip house." is just a reasonable miscommunication.  Under these particular circumstances "they have a flip house = children will be working on flip house." is the most reasonable conclusion.


If grandpa gave no indication they had a flip project started I think they were wrong in not sharing that. I think if you agree to be responsible for someone children you need to give notice if your routine is significantly changing. 

I think that's the only etiquette issue when people change their routine so much you're conclusions are based on totally incorrect information. That the child might have done any of these tacks in the grandparent home if needed I think would have been the most obvious assumption.  We know our parents and know about what work they think is appropriate for children. I think people are obligated to discuss things that are not know in this case before the first day of work that they owned a flip house.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: DaDancingPsych on September 27, 2013, 12:11:19 PM
Growing up, our family dynamic is such that various family members help each other with home repairs. As a kid (and tween and teen and now an adult), I was expected to help with these repairs. It was never thought of as free labor, just what you do as a family members. This is where I learned how to pound a nail and measure a board and where I grew a terrible hatred for hanging drywall. (And this hatred led me to not want to do it myself, so I worked hard in school so that I could get a good job and hire someone else to do it!!!) I am sure that I learned other general skills (like about hard work and team work, ect), but it was part of my raising.

In my family dynamic, you wouldnít necessarily need to have the activity approved by the parent. If you happen to be caring for anotherís child and doing home repairs that day, the child would just be expected to help out. But in other family dynamics, it may be more wise to let the parents know and possibly get an ok from them. But I see nothing rude or wrong with requesting the help of the child.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 12:13:51 PM
The grandson wasn't working for his grandparents as a paid laborer.  He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities.

Unwillingly. And for which they are making a profit, and he is not, although he is putting in a workweek like an adult.

Forty hours, five days a week is full-time work. How many people would spend their vacations doing this for relatives, for nothing more than room and board? Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?

I must say, if I were Tween, I'd not want to visit my grandparents again. Whether or not the grandparents should have checked with the parents (and I believe they should have), they were rude to their grandchild.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: TootsNYC on September 27, 2013, 12:26:59 PM
...not asking the boy's parents before having him do a full time job, especially a job that would be a violation of labor laws if the grandparents told anyone in authority about it and most especially a job that it's nearly a forgone conclusion that the boy's health care policy wouldn't cover.

Then consider that your kid could get hurt and your health insurance carrier would tell you to get stuffed because the contractor insurance was responsible for the bills. It'd be even better when whatever contractor policy the grandparents had tells you to get stuffed too because there's no way any construction insurance underwriter would ever be willing to insure a tween aged full time worker.  When something as simple as a broken toe could cost you into five figures and a major injury could easily bankrupt you, would you still be so willing? 
. . .


We're not supposed to go into legalities here, etc. This is an etiquette forum, not a legal or insurance one. So I'm reluctant to prolong this part of the topic. But I just want to say this: I'm not absolutely certain that the bolded would be true. Family businesses (farms, I'm pretty sure are) may be exempt from a lot of child labor laws.

And I'm not willing to accept on faith the idea that the kid's insurance wouldn't cover him for a broken toe in this situation.

I think we need to leave that out completely, and not assert anything either way. Because 1) it's not a given, universal, clearly established fact; and 2) it's not our topic--etiquette is.

Quote
He was working in an environment so hazardous that people who are trained and do it for a living have awards to give out when injuries don't happen.  This particular example is too far-reaching because of the amount and nature of the work.  I fully agree that kids should be willing to help out, but I've always maintained that this example just goes too far.

And while we have heard it was full-on work, 8 hours a day, I'm also willing to think that it was possible for the grandparents to have him doing things where the risk was pretty low.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CakeBeret on September 27, 2013, 12:29:42 PM
The grandson wasn't working for his grandparents as a paid laborer.  He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities.

Unwillingly. And for which they are making a profit, and he is not, although he is putting in a workweek like an adult.

Forty hours, five days a week is full-time work. How many people would spend their vacations doing this for relatives, for nothing more than room and board? Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?

I must say, if I were Tween, I'd not want to visit my grandparents again. Whether or not the grandparents should have checked with the parents (and I believe they should have), they were rude to their grandchild.

I agree with this. I believe kids should help their families and participate in family activities, but 40 hours a week for no pay? The kid didn't even see the profit via benefits to his nuclear family - presumably, the profit went to his grandparents and they are the ones who benefited from it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 27, 2013, 12:52:18 PM
The grandson wasn't working for his grandparents as a paid laborer.  He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities.

Unwillingly. And for which they are making a profit, and he is not, although he is putting in a workweek like an adult.

Forty hours, five days a week is full-time work. How many people would spend their vacations doing this for relatives, for nothing more than room and board? Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?

I must say, if I were Tween, I'd not want to visit my grandparents again. Whether or not the grandparents should have checked with the parents (and I believe they should have), they were rude to their grandchild.

POD.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 12:58:32 PM
Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?


That is your assumption. If that were the case, it would indeed be ugly. I imagine the situation differently, but OP has not shared any information about the grandparents' relative generosity/stinginess in relation to their grown children and grandchildren overall.

I also wonder whether those on this thread who talk about their valuable experiences and good memories of a hard-working childhood, did it "willingly" or would have complained about it when they were 9-12 years old. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: artk2002 on September 27, 2013, 01:12:27 PM
I understand the Tween wasn't happy, but is it because he expected to lay on the couch and watch TV or play video games while there? I'm not trying to be rude, but I raised two kids, and they thought summer vacation from school meant VACATION from doing anything they didn't like to do.


I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents.

Heavy construction labor is a far cry from doing the dishes or sweeping the floors. I believe that the grandparents badly overstepped their boundaries by not getting agreement to this work in the first place. I have no problem asking a child to perform household chores as their contribution to the household. Putting up drywall is something very different.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 01:21:28 PM
Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?


That is your assumption. If that were the case, it would indeed be ugly. I imagine the situation differently, but OP has not shared any information about the grandparents' relative generosity/stinginess in relation to their grown children and grandchildren overall.

I also wonder whether those on this thread who talk about their valuable experiences and good memories of a hard-working childhood, did it "willingly" or would have complained about it when they were 9-12 years old.

Or, they could be like my father, who had to go to work in the family business in his mid-teens, during the Depression.

He understood why it was necessary. He still got a distant look on his face when he talked about it, and called it "the worst time in my life".
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on September 27, 2013, 01:24:22 PM
TootsNYC wrote:

"And while we have heard it was full-on work, 8 hours a day, I'm also willing to think that it was possible for the grandparents to have him doing things where the risk was pretty low."

OK, I'll cast aside the liability and risk issues entirely and ask, do you think it's reasonable or polite to make a tween (or anyone, for that matter) work a 40 hour week for nothing more than a roof over his head?  I posit that this overreaches the concept of pitching in to help family.  I think it was rude to commit this boy to doing that much in that setting without checking with his parents first, and now that someone else brought it up I think it's also rude to the boy to demand that much effort under the guise of "helping out the family".

Virg
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: cheyne on September 27, 2013, 01:27:19 PM
The grandparents did have permission after the first day of work.  If the parents didn't want Tween to work they could have went and brought Tween home after his first day there.

Family farms are not subject to child labor laws.  I am not sure about other businesses.

I am having a hard time believing that child was actually doing hard physical labor.  Has anyone here ever lifted a bundle of shingles onto a roof or carried a 4X8 piece of 1/2 inch sheetrock?  Unless Tween can lift at least 75 lbs. there was no way he was doing that!  I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 01:33:13 PM
Family farms are not subject to child labor laws.  I am not sure about other businesses.

In general, farms are treated differently. You cannot put your child to work full-time at 10 in your factory just because you own the factory.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Garden Goblin on September 27, 2013, 01:36:34 PM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: wolfie on September 27, 2013, 01:37:20 PM
I wouldn't take the fact that they didn't bring the son home as meaning the parents were completely okay with it. It could be that they didn't have any options and decided that the work wouldn't kill him, but they weren't that happy about it. The first post said he needed supervision and that the grandparents agreed to do it. I take that to mean that there was a reason he couldn't be left home alone and that there were no camps that could take him. So their options might have been leave him there or have one of them go on a leave of absence from work. If that were the case I would assume they would go with let him stay but wouldn't be all that happy about it.

But maybe they really were okay with it. It does seem like more work then I would be okay with a kid being forced to do, but that is up to each individual.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 01:42:45 PM
I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 27, 2013, 01:45:24 PM
Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?


That is your assumption. If that were the case, it would indeed be ugly. I imagine the situation differently, but OP has not shared any information about the grandparents' relative generosity/stinginess in relation to their grown children and grandchildren overall.

I also wonder whether those on this thread who talk about their valuable experiences and good memories of a hard-working childhood, did it "willingly" or would have complained about it when they were 9-12 years old.

I know I whined about going out to hunt down new born calves in the snow when I really wanted to be sleeping in, or helping harvest crops when I really wanted to be skiing at the lake. But am I glad I had those expereinces, yep I am and I was just talking with my DH how we wish our parents had lived long enough for our two to have the opportunity to do some outdoor  manual labor like we did . About the only manual labor that our kids particpate in is spending 10 min a week cleaning the pool  bagging up leaves about once a month. 
TootsNYC wrote:

"And while we have heard it was full-on work, 8 hours a day, I'm also willing to think that it was possible for the grandparents to have him doing things where the risk was pretty low."

OK, I'll cast aside the liability and risk issues entirely and ask, do you think it's reasonable or polite to make a tween (or anyone, for that matter) work a 40 hour week for nothing more than a roof over his head?  I posit that this overreaches the concept of pitching in to help family.  I think it was rude to commit this boy to doing that much in that setting without checking with his parents first, and now that someone else brought it up I think it's also rude to the boy to demand that much effort under the guise of "helping out the family".

Virg

In my experience, while the family may have been on site for 8 hours a day, actual back breaking work during a remodel is limited. There is a lot of sitting around. And we don't know what the family thinks of this. A bunch of people here said it would be considered "helping out the family". 

But honestly, since the OP stated the boy needed "supervision" over the summer, my perspective was that there had been some home issues that caused the father and or mother to decide a change of scenery for th summer was a good idea. And keeping him occupied by helping out with a remodel ended up being ok with the father at least.

Some times we have to do things we don't want to do and this boy got a chance to learn that lesson this past summer.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 01:46:10 PM
I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

Actually, I'd rather be tearing down drywall than standing around for 8 hours, waiting to hand someone a screwdriver when asked. Could there be anything more perfect for driving you mad with boredom?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Garden Goblin on September 27, 2013, 01:47:52 PM
This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

I'd be careful just making this assumption though.  I was dismissed as a 'Drama Tween', but no, as it turns out, the family member really was completely toxic and eventually did show her true face (the one known to all the kids but few adults) to everyone.  I still have trouble not saying 'told you so' whenever someone who once accused me of just being lazy and dramatic relates a story of how toxic family member's behavior impacted them.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 01:49:22 PM
Actually, there's a lot of differing opinions as to whether a 12 year old can be left alone for long periods. Some people don't see it that it's necessary, other people have a fit at the thought of a preteen on their own for long periods of time.

I wouldn't assume that "needs supervision" means more than "his parents won't be home, so someone should be watching him."
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 01:59:03 PM
This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

I'd be careful just making this assumption though.  I was dismissed as a 'Drama Tween', but no, as it turns out, the family member really was completely toxic and eventually did show her true face (the one known to all the kids but few adults) to everyone.  I still have trouble not saying 'told you so' whenever someone who once accused me of just being lazy and dramatic relates a story of how toxic family member's behavior impacted them.

I'm sorry that happened to you.  I didn't see anything in OP to suggest that her friends are toxic or the grandson is actually being abused. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: turnip on September 27, 2013, 02:02:01 PM
The grandson wasn't working for his grandparents as a paid laborer.  He was participating with them in their day-to-day activities.

Unwillingly. And for which they are making a profit, and he is not, although he is putting in a workweek like an adult.

Forty hours, five days a week is full-time work. How many people would spend their vacations doing this for relatives, for nothing more than room and board? Only to see the relatives realize a fat profit at the end, without sharing any of it?

I must say, if I were Tween, I'd not want to visit my grandparents again. Whether or not the grandparents should have checked with the parents (and I believe they should have), they were rude to their grandchild.

This is where I am.  A friend of mine went though this - every summer she was sent to her Aunt and Uncle's to work 6 days a week at their Cafe for 3 months, for the privilege of a sleeping bag on her cousin's floor and $100 cash at the end of it.  At the time she didn't really have the context to object, now as an adult she really resents them all for taking advantage of a hard working and naive kid.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 02:10:15 PM
I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

Actually, I'd rather be tearing down drywall than standing around for 8 hours, waiting to hand someone a screwdriver when asked. Could there be anything more perfect for driving you mad with boredom?

Tearing down drywall is a lot more likely than putting it up.  The only contribution a tween could offer would be unskilled labor-  probably mostly helping paint (quickly learned, mistakes easily fixed).  And they would be good at doing demo.  I can't see a tween not wanting to take a sledge hammer to things.

But, anything else would be a matter of learning and just helping out.

I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Add in seeing up close the whole concept of buying something, adding value and selling it for more and he's got some pretty powerful life skills.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 02:45:40 PM
And the opportunity could be presented as such.

However, the child has also learned that you can extort other people's labour with no recompense. This is not such a good learning experience.

This would have been a great idea *if* the parents and grandparents had gotten buy-in from the child at the start. However, it sounds like the child was presented with "we've decided you're going to work very hard for us, without any input from you, because your opinion doesn't count, and you'll not get any tangibles out of it. Just be thankful for the wonderful experience, K?" This, I think, is rude to the child, who does not have an option to leave if he doesn't agree with the terms.

A child old enough to put in an adult workweek doing adult labour is old enough to be *asked* to participate, not *commanded*. I'd be pretty unhappy myself if I was presented this as a fait accompli.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 03:12:39 PM
And the opportunity could be presented as such.

However, the child has also learned that you can extort other people's labour with no recompense. This is not such a good learning experience.

This would have been a great idea *if* the parents and grandparents had gotten buy-in from the child at the start. However, it sounds like the child was presented with "we've decided you're going to work very hard for us, without any input from you, because your opinion doesn't count, and you'll not get any tangibles out of it. Just be thankful for the wonderful experience, K?" This, I think, is rude to the child, who does not have an option to leave if he doesn't agree with the terms.

A child old enough to put in an adult workweek doing adult labour is old enough to be *asked* to participate, not *commanded*. I'd be pretty unhappy myself if I was presented this as a fait accompli.

Part of the job of a parent is making decisions for the good of the child, that's not being rude to the child though the child may not see it that way.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: wolfie on September 27, 2013, 03:15:18 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 03:28:27 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

That he chooses to waste a valuable opportunity does not negate the fact that it has value.  Most kids hate going to school, but I rarely see that being used as a reason not to go.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: shhh its me on September 27, 2013, 03:33:01 PM
And the opportunity could be presented as such.

However, the child has also learned that you can extort other people's labour with no recompense. This is not such a good learning experience.

This would have been a great idea *if* the parents and grandparents had gotten buy-in from the child at the start. However, it sounds like the child was presented with "we've decided you're going to work very hard for us, without any input from you, because your opinion doesn't count, and you'll not get any tangibles out of it. Just be thankful for the wonderful experience, K?" This, I think, is rude to the child, who does not have an option to leave if he doesn't agree with the terms.

A child old enough to put in an adult workweek doing adult labour is old enough to be *asked* to participate, not *commanded*. I'd be pretty unhappy myself if I was presented this as a fait accompli.

Part of the job of a parent is making decisions for the good of the child, that's not being rude to the child though the child may not see it that way.
To the bolded I don't think its rude... it may be bad parenting , it may be unfair , it might be cruel , it may destroy a relationship.  I don't think all bad things are rude or all good things are polite.

Please I mean might as in" its possible" , that's its a matter of opinion. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: AnnaJ on September 27, 2013, 03:44:12 PM
The parents knew that their son was working on the house after the first day, so I don't see any deceit on the grandparents' part - if dad had protested and grandparents gone behind his back and still had the son work, that would be different.  Honestly, the fact that dad was OK with it makes me think that grandparents and parents are on the same page here, so I don't see the fact that they (grandparents) didn't say anything the day before as being rude.

OP, are you asking because the son has said something to you about the situation?

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 04:08:18 PM
I think she was asking because it is a pet peeve of hers.

The question of whether a child could be put to work if they were in the care of a babysitter is a much different.  If someone is being paid to watch the child, then the parent would direct what activities were and were not ok.

IOWs, a babysitter could not make the child do dishes for her at home, or help paint a room without it being ok with the parents.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on September 27, 2013, 04:24:39 PM
The question of whether a child could be put to work if they were in the care of a babysitter is a much different.  If someone is being paid to watch the child, then the parent would direct what activities were and were not ok.

IOWs, a babysitter could not make the child do dishes for her at home, or help paint a room without it being ok with the parents.

Oh, yes indeed! A paid babysitter changes the situation completely.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 27, 2013, 04:42:54 PM
The question of whether a child could be put to work if they were in the care of a babysitter is a much different.  If someone is being paid to watch the child, then the parent would direct what activities were and were not ok.

IOWs, a babysitter could not make the child do dishes for her at home, or help paint a room without it being ok with the parents.

Oh, yes indeed! A paid babysitter changes the situation completely.

I compeletely agree with this. I'd be very upset if a paid babysitter was having my child to anything more than picking up for themselves. But this was a grandchild living for 2 to 3 months with their grandparents and effectively taking on the guardianship role.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Onyx_TKD on September 27, 2013, 06:25:27 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

That he chooses to waste a valuable opportunity does not negate the fact that it has value.  Most kids hate going to school, but I rarely see that being used as a reason not to go.

Deciding that one dislikes a task enough to pay others to do it is not "wast[ing] a valuable opportunity." That's very judgmental. Also, not every experience of performing a new task is a "valuable opportunity." Many can be, but if the experience is unpleasant enough to turn someone off from an activity they would otherwise have enjoyed, I'd say it's quite the opposite.

For example:
When I had my first car, my older brother offered to walk me through changing the oil. Although I appreciated the offer, I found changing my own oil to be a miserable experience and decided I'd much rather pay for an oil change in the future. As it happened, when the next oil change rolled around, my very kind brother offered to change my oil along with his own, since he didn't mind the task. Afterwards, he said he hated changing the oil on my car due to its design (things he hadn't realized while walking me through the process), and he completely understood my decision to have professional oil changes. In the future when I have a different car, I'll probably try again. But that experience was valuable for only two reasons: A) because I enjoyed spending the time with my brother, who loved teaching his baby sister about cars, and B) it taught me that changing the oil on that car wasn't remotely worth my time and discomfort. Fortunately for me, my brother realized that it was my car that was the main problem--otherwise, it would probably have turned me off from ever doing my own oil changes again.

The child in the OP apparently didn't enjoy the time spent working with the grandparents, so if the experience does turn him off from future DIY work, I don't really see how it was particularly valuable. And if the experience was so unpleasant that he's willing to pay to avoid ever doing it again, then I don't see how that implies any fault with the child.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: nolechica on September 27, 2013, 06:38:12 PM
Work deserves money regardless of age.

Or, at least, a reward of some sort. Being put to do heavy work for someone other than your parents, with no reward for what you do, is going to cause you to become very jaded.

The child is effectively being asked to pay for his own care, rather than his parents, which does not seem particularly fair.


Exactly, but the reward for this work would need to be expensive, so a check would be faster.  I doubt he just did one day's work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: oogyda on September 27, 2013, 06:42:50 PM
I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

Actually, I'd rather be tearing down drywall than standing around for 8 hours, waiting to hand someone a screwdriver when asked. Could there be anything more perfect for driving you mad with boredom?

Tearing down drywall is a lot more likely than putting it up.  The only contribution a tween could offer would be unskilled labor-  probably mostly helping paint (quickly learned, mistakes easily fixed).  And they would be good at doing demo.  I can't see a tween not wanting to take a sledge hammer to things.

But, anything else would be a matter of learning and just helping out.

I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Add in seeing up close the whole concept of buying something, adding value and selling it for more and he's got some pretty powerful life skills.

Audrey, this is what I was thinking. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 06:44:13 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

That he chooses to waste a valuable opportunity does not negate the fact that it has value.  Most kids hate going to school, but I rarely see that being used as a reason not to go.

Deciding that one dislikes a task enough to pay others to do it is not "wast[ing] a valuable opportunity." That's very judgmental. Also, not every experience of performing a new task is a "valuable opportunity." Many can be, but if the experience is unpleasant enough to turn someone off from an activity they would otherwise have enjoyed, I'd say it's quite the opposite.

For example:
When I had my first car, my older brother offered to walk me through changing the oil. Although I appreciated the offer, I found changing my own oil to be a miserable experience and decided I'd much rather pay for an oil change in the future. As it happened, when the next oil change rolled around, my very kind brother offered to change my oil along with his own, since he didn't mind the task. Afterwards, he said he hated changing the oil on my car due to its design (things he hadn't realized while walking me through the process), and he completely understood my decision to have professional oil changes. In the future when I have a different car, I'll probably try again. But that experience was valuable for only two reasons: A) because I enjoyed spending the time with my brother, who loved teaching his baby sister about cars, and B) it taught me that changing the oil on that car wasn't remotely worth my time and discomfort. Fortunately for me, my brother realized that it was my car that was the main problem--otherwise, it would probably have turned me off from ever doing my own oil changes again.

The child in the OP apparently didn't enjoy the time spent working with the grandparents, so if the experience does turn him off from future DIY work, I don't really see how it was particularly valuable. And if the experience was so unpleasant that he's willing to pay to avoid ever doing it again, then I don't see how that implies any fault with the child.

I think feel like you are missing my point.

This is not about how he feels.  This is about learning skills that have value.  The skills do not lose their value because he doesn't like doing them.  He could just easily find that he loves doing them.  It doesn't matter.  It's still a worthwhile thing to know/be able to do.

He may not like painting houses, but he may find that it pays much better than working at fast food restaurant.  So, even though he doesn't like it, he will do it for the money on the way to something better.

It's a skill that has value to other people that you can be paid for.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Kimblee on September 27, 2013, 07:03:17 PM


Promise wrote:

"Even my sons' teen friends, when they came over, helped out with things if I needed an extra set of hands. No one ever stopped coming over because they were put to work."

Did you ever ask one of them to build you a shed or paint your house?  The OP is talking about a full time job here.


My cousin and I built a chicken coop during a weekend visit to an uncle. She didn't get paid but I got a pair of Rhode Island Red hens.

Weirdest Job asked to do by family: change my grandfather's catheter. I was 16 and had learned to care for them at 14 from a home health nurse for my stepdad. I didn't think how strange a request it was until days later.

I believe if a teen/child works an adult's job and saves a person the wages hiring someone would bring, they ought to be paid. In cash, privilege, fun experiences or hens.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 27, 2013, 07:06:32 PM

It's a skill that has value to other people that you can be paid for.
Well, he actually learned that it's a skill that he won't be paid for.

If a child is given responsibilities, I think they should be given certain rights as well, such as being given an appropriate reward for efforts towards a shared goal.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Winterlight on September 27, 2013, 07:14:16 PM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.

My brother and I helped around the house because we were expected to, but when it came to heavy work like shoveling the driveway or stacking our winter wood, we got paid, because my parents felt it was unreasonable to treat us like free labor. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on September 27, 2013, 07:17:47 PM
When I was a kid I was tasked with painting my own room. When I grew up and bought a home, I painted some of the smaller rooms, but I felt perfectly comfortable paying for others t be painted, because I knew exactly what I was paying for - not so much the painting, but the luxury of not having to paint myself.
I also learned basic electrical circuiting (in 4th grade science) and had the skill re-enforced over my youth by my electrician grandfather. when tasked with updating light switches, light fixtures and electrical outlets, I'm perfectly capable and happy to do it myself.

Having skills is power. Its the power that I can do it myself, but not the obligation I have to do it myself. Its the power of an informed decision as to whether do it or pay for it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Onyx_TKD on September 27, 2013, 07:24:36 PM
[trimmed quote tree]
That he chooses to waste a valuable opportunity does not negate the fact that it has value.  Most kids hate going to school, but I rarely see that being used as a reason not to go.

Deciding that one dislikes a task enough to pay others to do it is not "wast[ing] a valuable opportunity." That's very judgmental. Also, not every experience of performing a new task is a "valuable opportunity." Many can be, but if the experience is unpleasant enough to turn someone off from an activity they would otherwise have enjoyed, I'd say it's quite the opposite.

For example:
When I had my first car, my older brother offered to walk me through changing the oil. Although I appreciated the offer, I found changing my own oil to be a miserable experience and decided I'd much rather pay for an oil change in the future. As it happened, when the next oil change rolled around, my very kind brother offered to change my oil along with his own, since he didn't mind the task. Afterwards, he said he hated changing the oil on my car due to its design (things he hadn't realized while walking me through the process), and he completely understood my decision to have professional oil changes. In the future when I have a different car, I'll probably try again. But that experience was valuable for only two reasons: A) because I enjoyed spending the time with my brother, who loved teaching his baby sister about cars, and B) it taught me that changing the oil on that car wasn't remotely worth my time and discomfort. Fortunately for me, my brother realized that it was my car that was the main problem--otherwise, it would probably have turned me off from ever doing my own oil changes again.

The child in the OP apparently didn't enjoy the time spent working with the grandparents, so if the experience does turn him off from future DIY work, I don't really see how it was particularly valuable. And if the experience was so unpleasant that he's willing to pay to avoid ever doing it again, then I don't see how that implies any fault with the child.

I think you are missing my point.

This is not about how he feels.  This is about learning skills that have value.  The skills do not lose their value because he doesn't like doing them.  He could just easily find that he loves doing them.  It doesn't matter.  It's still a worthwhile thing to know/be able to do.

He may not like painting houses, but he may find that it pays much better than working at fast food restaurant.  So, even though he doesn't like it, he will do it for the money on the way to something better.

It's a skill that has value to other people that you can be paid for.

And I think you have missed my point that choosing not to use a skill does not mean one is "wasting" anything. Your post strongly implied that this child would be wrong and wasteful if he chose not to employ his new "skills" in the future. People make choices all the time about what they will do themselves and what they are willing to pay to avoid doing. If they didn't, those skills wouldn't have monetary value.

I also disagree that we have enough information to know that this child was learning valuable skills in a way that will be beneficial to him later. That is one possibility. It's also possible that he either didn't learn valuable skills (e.g., was used for unskilled, manual labor only, or was taught incorrect/subpar techniques) or that the circumstances of learning will discourage him from using skills he might have enjoyed without those associations.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 08:53:04 PM
[trimmed quote tree]
That he chooses to waste a valuable opportunity does not negate the fact that it has value.  Most kids hate going to school, but I rarely see that being used as a reason not to go.

Deciding that one dislikes a task enough to pay others to do it is not "wast[ing] a valuable opportunity." That's very judgmental. Also, not every experience of performing a new task is a "valuable opportunity." Many can be, but if the experience is unpleasant enough to turn someone off from an activity they would otherwise have enjoyed, I'd say it's quite the opposite.

For example:
When I had my first car, my older brother offered to walk me through changing the oil. Although I appreciated the offer, I found changing my own oil to be a miserable experience and decided I'd much rather pay for an oil change in the future. As it happened, when the next oil change rolled around, my very kind brother offered to change my oil along with his own, since he didn't mind the task. Afterwards, he said he hated changing the oil on my car due to its design (things he hadn't realized while walking me through the process), and he completely understood my decision to have professional oil changes. In the future when I have a different car, I'll probably try again. But that experience was valuable for only two reasons: A) because I enjoyed spending the time with my brother, who loved teaching his baby sister about cars, and B) it taught me that changing the oil on that car wasn't remotely worth my time and discomfort. Fortunately for me, my brother realized that it was my car that was the main problem--otherwise, it would probably have turned me off from ever doing my own oil changes again.

The child in the OP apparently didn't enjoy the time spent working with the grandparents, so if the experience does turn him off from future DIY work, I don't really see how it was particularly valuable. And if the experience was so unpleasant that he's willing to pay to avoid ever doing it again, then I don't see how that implies any fault with the child.

I think you are missing my point.

This is not about how he feels.  This is about learning skills that have value.  The skills do not lose their value because he doesn't like doing them.  He could just easily find that he loves doing them.  It doesn't matter.  It's still a worthwhile thing to know/be able to do.

He may not like painting houses, but he may find that it pays much better than working at fast food restaurant.  So, even though he doesn't like it, he will do it for the money on the way to something better.

It's a skill that has value to other people that you can be paid for.

And I think you have missed my point that choosing not to use a skill does not mean one is "wasting" anything. Your post strongly implied that this child would be wrong and wasteful if he chose not to employ his new "skills" in the future. People make choices all the time about what they will do themselves and what they are willing to pay to avoid doing. If they didn't, those skills wouldn't have monetary value.

I also disagree that we have enough information to know that this child was learning valuable skills in a way that will be beneficial to him later. That is one possibility. It's also possible that he either didn't learn valuable skills (e.g., was used for unskilled, manual labor only, or was taught incorrect/subpar techniques) or that the circumstances of learning will discourage him from using skills he might have enjoyed without those associations.

You are reading things into my posts that are not there.

This is what I wrote:
"That he chooses to waste a valuable opportunity does not negate the fact that it has value. "

The opportunity is being able to  learn new skills.  Nowhere did I imply that the kid is wrong if he doesn't use these skills throughout his lifetime.  I didn't even imply that he was wrong in wasting it, just that him doing so does not change the nature of the opportunity.

I think we do know that in this situation that his father, who grew up with this experience is allowing his son to continue to have it.  I think he knows what is good for his own son.  I am not willing to go down the rabbit hole of supposing that he is anything other than a caring and competent parent.




Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 27, 2013, 08:56:17 PM
So how about church missions where kids are put to work doing all manner of things in third world countries? 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: TootsNYC on September 27, 2013, 08:58:51 PM

The child in the OP apparently didn't enjoy the time spent working with the grandparents, so if the experience does turn him off from future DIY work, I don't really see how it was particularly valuable. And if the experience was so unpleasant that he's willing to pay to avoid ever doing it again, then I don't see how that implies any fault with the child.

Well, now he knows what he likes--or doesn't like!

He can be sure to not buy a fixer-upper when he purchases his first house.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: sweetonsno on September 27, 2013, 11:56:54 PM
So how about church missions where kids are put to work doing all manner of things in third world countries?

IME, the kids who go on church missions volunteer for them and in many cases are keen enough on participating that they fundraise or otherwise make money to pay for their tickets. They know what they're getting into well before they arrive. It sounds like this was sort of sprung on the kid.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Iris on September 28, 2013, 01:02:16 AM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.

My brother and I helped around the house because we were expected to, but when it came to heavy work like shoveling the driveway or stacking our winter wood, we got paid, because my parents felt it was unreasonable to treat us like free labor.

See, whereas I would maybe class these jobs as valid things for a child to be asked to do because they benefit the whole family and are jobs that need to be done (I don't know for sure, I've never done either). I do pay my kids for some jobs, but it tends to be jobs that I would LIKE done, but aren't essential. So for me it's more weeding the garden that gets paid - I like having a weed free garden but the kids couldn't care less and don't benefit from it, hence to me = paid job.

It's interesting I think to see so many varieties of paid/non-paid jobs.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Winterlight on September 28, 2013, 07:02:55 AM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.

My brother and I helped around the house because we were expected to, but when it came to heavy work like shoveling the driveway or stacking our winter wood, we got paid, because my parents felt it was unreasonable to treat us like free labor.

See, whereas I would maybe class these jobs as valid things for a child to be asked to do because they benefit the whole family and are jobs that need to be done (I don't know for sure, I've never done either). I do pay my kids for some jobs, but it tends to be jobs that I would LIKE done, but aren't essential. So for me it's more weeding the garden that gets paid - I like having a weed free garden but the kids couldn't care less and don't benefit from it, hence to me = paid job.

It's interesting I think to see so many varieties of paid/non-paid jobs.

For us, it was partly that there wasn't anywhere else for us to earn money- we lived in a somewhat rural area and everyone else had kids so we couldn't hire out to do stuff for neighbors or get part-time jobs somewhere. The other part is, wood-stacking/house painting/snow shoveling were all hard, dirty, long jobs. Necessary, yes, but they weren't a 20 minute task- we're talking about hours (long driveway after a big snowfall, the wood for the whole winter, etc.)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Iris on September 28, 2013, 05:19:58 PM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.

My brother and I helped around the house because we were expected to, but when it came to heavy work like shoveling the driveway or stacking our winter wood, we got paid, because my parents felt it was unreasonable to treat us like free labor.

See, whereas I would maybe class these jobs as valid things for a child to be asked to do because they benefit the whole family and are jobs that need to be done (I don't know for sure, I've never done either). I do pay my kids for some jobs, but it tends to be jobs that I would LIKE done, but aren't essential. So for me it's more weeding the garden that gets paid - I like having a weed free garden but the kids couldn't care less and don't benefit from it, hence to me = paid job.

It's interesting I think to see so many varieties of paid/non-paid jobs.

For us, it was partly that there wasn't anywhere else for us to earn money- we lived in a somewhat rural area and everyone else had kids so we couldn't hire out to do stuff for neighbors or get part-time jobs somewhere. The other part is, wood-stacking/house painting/snow shoveling were all hard, dirty, long jobs. Necessary, yes, but they weren't a 20 minute task- we're talking about hours (long driveway after a big snowfall, the wood for the whole winter, etc.)

What a good way to teach you the value of hard work!
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: LifeOnPluto on September 29, 2013, 03:16:53 AM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.


I completely agree. 40 hours a week manual labour for a 12 year old? Seems pretty harsh to me. I wonder how many people would think this was ok if it was an adult, rather than a tween?

Here's an interesting etiquette question. What if the boy had politely refused to work on the house renovations? What if he had said "No thanks Grandma and Grandpa. I'd rather sit quietly and read my book. I am happy to do normal household chores and yard work though."

Or even if - after a few weeks - he'd politely said "Grandma and Grandpa, I've worked 40 hours these past few weeks. This is my summer vacation and I just want to have some time off."
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Lady Snowdon on September 29, 2013, 06:22:46 AM
My parents both commuted long distances to work (70 miles one way for one parent, about 50 miles one way for the other parent), so during summer vacation I always had to be watched by someone, just in case something happened that only an adult could take care of.  For four years, from ages 12-15, having an adult watch me consisted of me working 40 hour weeks for my uncle's landscaping business.  I pulled weeds, planted, watered and pruned flowers and bushes, did clean up work, etc.  It was hard manual labor.  I was paid, but it was something like fifty cents or a dollar per hour, and all the money went to a savings account.  I was also in charge of keeping track of how many hours we spent at each particular site, so my uncle knew how to bill the account correctly.  My grandmother was the one who was normally with me, and we had a blast!  I remember those four years with so much fondness and nostalgia. 

That experience is really coloring my thoughts here.  I think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.  The parents knew about it pretty much right from the start and were okay with it. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sophia on September 29, 2013, 07:51:57 AM
And considering how the kid's father was raised, it shouldn't have come as a shock, and it doesn't seem to have been. 
Has anyone else read that book from the Dallas Mom about the year-long journey to stump out entitlement in her kids? 
It was a very good book.  She mentioned a kid she knew whose parents gave their son a big, hard, manual labor job to do every summer.  The kid went to St. Mark's which is probably the very top private school in North Texas, so the parents had money.  One summer the job was "installing a lawn sprinkler system", and the kid almost forgot about a school meeting he had to attend before school started.  So, he showed up in his yard work clothes.  The other kid's teased him until he told them what he had been doing.  Then they had respect.  Their parents wouldn't have trusted them to do something like that.  But, he'd had summer projects from when he was young. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Queen of Clubs on September 29, 2013, 08:35:25 AM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.
I completely agree. 40 hours a week manual labour for a 12 year old? Seems pretty harsh to me. I wonder how many people would think this was ok if it was an adult, rather than a tween?

I agree with all this.  To me, this situation smacks of a mix between a bait and switch and being voluntold.  If someone did this to me - a 40 hour week and no pay/reward for working so hard - I'd be resentful and hurt at being treated like unpaid labour.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: violinp on September 29, 2013, 08:38:26 AM
So how about church missions where kids are put to work doing all manner of things in third world countries?

IME, the kids who go on church missions volunteer for them and in many cases are keen enough on participating that they fundraise or otherwise make money to pay for their tickets. They know what they're getting into well before they arrive. It sounds like this was sort of sprung on the kid.

This, exactly, and most of the kids, at least in my experience, were 15-16+, not preteens, because roofing and such in the heat of summer is incredibly hard work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 29, 2013, 08:51:29 AM
Helping in normal daily activities, even if those daily activities to include some hard labor = acceptable to me, as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities - homework, boy scout/tae kwon do activities, etc..

Having an activity scheduled to take advantage of the fact that a kid is there to provide free labor = not so much, especially if the activity takes more than say, 25% of the time the kid is visiting.  So I don't mind a case of 'ooh, look, we've got an extra hand, let's spend a few minutes seeing if we can't move that couch' instances, but 'hey, look, we've got an extra hand, let's remodel the living room' is a different story.

I guess my view comes down to 'kids are people too, and deserve respect' viewpoint.  If you'd be uncomfortable asking a visiting adult to pitch in, it's wrong to expect a visiting child to do the tasks.  I used to hate going to family gatherings because I'd be expected to watch all the other kids, and this seems on the surface to just be a variation of that.  I think the kid should have been asked, and there should have been a reward attached to saying 'yes', even if that reward is nothing more than 'getting to visit in the first place'.

This is where I come down on it. I see a big difference between helping out and an unpaid 40-hour work week.


I completely agree. 40 hours a week manual labour for a 12 year old? Seems pretty harsh to me. I wonder how many people would think this was ok if it was an adult, rather than a tween?

Here's an interesting etiquette question. What if the boy had politely refused to work on the house renovations? What if he had said "No thanks Grandma and Grandpa. I'd rather sit quietly and read my book. I am happy to do normal household chores and yard work though."

Or even if - after a few weeks - he'd politely said "Grandma and Grandpa, I've worked 40 hours these past few weeks. This is my summer vacation and I just want to have some time off."
Why is there an assumption that these grandparents (who had enough success as parents for their son to be willing to ask them to be full time guardian for multiple months) wouldn't have the ability to assign age appropriate work to a pre-teen?

To your question, I think since his temp guardians were assigning the work, it wasn't an invitation he can decline. If he didn't want to do the work his option would be to get his parents to find other options in where to live for the summer.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2013, 09:23:56 AM
I think the people who were really seeing a profit were the kids parents. They were saving a great deal on childcare every month, plus the extra costs of having him around in general.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: #borecore on September 29, 2013, 10:01:28 AM
This is a fun question to me, because I don't believe there's one right or wrong answer.

In my parents' home, we were expected to work and never paid for it because it was part of . The work was ordinary household chores (just lots of them, because my mom is a neat freak) and outdoor chores of the sort a neatly maintained, landscaped suburban house needs. It was also help with woodworking or craft projects, construction (of sheds, additions to the house, etc.), babysitting (though only in my case, as the eldest) and cooking.

We were also expected to go to my mom's workplace a few times a year and help her with simple sorting, organizing, or decorating of her classroom (mainly because she didn't have a babysitter). A few times, my father made us help with his construction business, when he had one, but we weren't of much help because he wasn't a good teacher. When they had yard sales and such, we were right there helping with sales and counting change.

IF my dad had expected us to work full time at his construction business, we would have expected pay. He didn't do a very good job of paying his actual laborers (including some of our friends, but that's a legal story for another forum), so perhaps that would've been misguided.

But every family is different. My childhood best friend was expected to help with the family's eBay auctions for free, but was paid an allowance for her chores, which she rarely remembered to do (and thus constantly struggled with her mom over). Other friends were paid an allowance AND never expected to lift a finger for any household work outside their own bedrooms (and some even had maids for that work!).

Nobody did it wrong, per se, but I would advocate for giving children some responsibilities beyond their own welfare, paid or not.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Jones on September 29, 2013, 12:43:52 PM
I've tried several times to answer this thread and don't know that I can, as the fact my DH still has back problems from a renovation accident in his teens colors my perception  a lot. Volunteering to do work, being paid for the work, makes it better IMO, but I'd still hesitate before asking a preteen or teen to do something dangerous to them, whether it's dangerous because they are physically week, unused to the work or just have a fairly standard teen mind that doesn't always think through consequences. My parents did a lot of renovation work as I grew up, and showed us how to use tools (I didn't use a drill until I was 17, though I had seen my parents use one and they'd explained it before), and we had to carry out buckets of garbage, but we were never put into a position where a slip of a hand would hurt one of us--that was adult work. We got to organize food storage, clean bathrooms, and cook meals, which freed up the parents to do their drywall attachments and heavy lifting of railway ties for the garden.

I do think that the father could have looked back on his past and seen what his parents might request his son to do while visiting. I know that if my kids stay with my inlaws, I had better check into what household projects are occurring first, because of what they asked DH to do as a kid/preteen/teen. Fair warning, IMO.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2013, 01:12:49 PM
Jones, I think that is a valid concern for a parent but I think there are also a whole lot of adults suffering from knee and back  issues due to sports. As a parent I might not want my kid involved in construction or contact sports. These parents do seem OK with it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: LifeOnPluto on September 30, 2013, 01:36:32 AM
My parents both commuted long distances to work (70 miles one way for one parent, about 50 miles one way for the other parent), so during summer vacation I always had to be watched by someone, just in case something happened that only an adult could take care of.  For four years, from ages 12-15, having an adult watch me consisted of me working 40 hour weeks for my uncle's landscaping business.  I pulled weeds, planted, watered and pruned flowers and bushes, did clean up work, etc.  It was hard manual labor.  I was paid, but it was something like fifty cents or a dollar per hour, and all the money went to a savings account.  I was also in charge of keeping track of how many hours we spent at each particular site, so my uncle knew how to bill the account correctly.  My grandmother was the one who was normally with me, and we had a blast!  I remember those four years with so much fondness and nostalgia. 

That experience is really coloring my thoughts here.  I think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.  The parents knew about it pretty much right from the start and were okay with it.

The difference here is that you were paid (even if it was only a minimal amount) for your 40 hour weeks. The kid in this thread is getting paid absolutely nothing for all his work.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 30, 2013, 07:39:30 AM
I talked to my mom about this. As children, she and my aunt arose at 5am. They dressed, fed the livestock and poultry, made breakfast for their parents, got their school items together and were driven to school (10 miles each way). After school, they cleaned the barns and pens, groomed the animals, weeded for an hour, then did their homework and cooked dinner.

The work amounted to 15 hours a week and at harvest time, they were paid. They used that money to buy more fashionable clothes for school. I think that is a pretty typical farm kid amount of work.

Very different from 40 hours a week.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 30, 2013, 08:03:45 AM
I talked to my mom about this. As children, she and my aunt arose at 5am. They dressed, fed the livestock and poultry, made breakfast for their parents, got their school items together and were driven to school (10 miles each way). After school, they cleaned the barns and pens, groomed the animals, weeded for an hour, then did their homework and cooked dinner.

The work amounted to 15 hours a week and at harvest time, they were paid. They used that money to buy more fashionable clothes for school. I think that is a pretty typical farm kid amount of work. Very different from 40 hours a week.

I agree that is typical for a school year. For summers, my experience was there was a lot more work.

I've said that I was used as "free child labor" by my parents growing up. And I have no resentment of it. I was thinking about this again yesterday morning how so many were concerned about the "free" part. I didn't consider the work I did as free labor for my parents. I considered it work that I was doing along with my parents to make the family more profitable. And if I needed  "more fashionable" clothes my parents paid for them. Our family didn't really operate on the kids getting an allowance and using it for extras. My parents were pretty lenient with paying for our entertainment desires and clothing. Any money that I earned outside the family was my to do as I wished. But I didn't really have any needs they weren't fullfilling. When I was 16 and started working for a store being paid weekly, I cashed my first pay check that was for around $60 (1980's) and planned to use that cash till it ran out and then I'd cash the next one. My mom was flabergasted to find 5 weeks work of paychecks on my desk because I hadn't needed to cash them and I hadn't gone to deposit them in my bank account.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CaffeineKatie on September 30, 2013, 09:09:37 AM
I think the grandparents could pay the kids for the work--and then deduct for food and board and tuition costs for the skills they are teaching the kids.  I am constantly amazed at adults I know (young and old) who are paying handymen/repairmen for simple things they should have learned to do as a teenager--basic skills they never got because they weren't required to chip in maintaining their home or family business.  Their loss in the long run.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MommyPenguin on September 30, 2013, 09:46:02 AM
I talked to my mom about this. As children, she and my aunt arose at 5am. They dressed, fed the livestock and poultry, made breakfast for their parents, got their school items together and were driven to school (10 miles each way). After school, they cleaned the barns and pens, groomed the animals, weeded for an hour, then did their homework and cooked dinner.

The work amounted to 15 hours a week and at harvest time, they were paid. They used that money to buy more fashionable clothes for school. I think that is a pretty typical farm kid amount of work.

Very different from 40 hours a week.

How can that be 15 hours a week?  15 hours a week is just over 2 hours a day.  One hour is spent weeding.  So they are able to walk to the barns, feed the livestock and poultry, walk back, make breakfast, then (after school) walk to the barns, clean the barns and pens, and groom the animals, all in one hour?  That seems like a low estimate.  Also, I'd imagine that most farm kids would have more duties on the weekend days.  I'm not saying a 40 hour week, of course, but it seems like it would be more than 15.  Plus summers, too.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Minmom3 on September 30, 2013, 10:15:32 AM
I think the grandparents could pay the kids for the work--and then deduct for food and board and tuition costs for the skills they are teaching the kids.  I am constantly amazed at adults I know (young and old) who are paying handymen/repairmen for simple things they should have learned to do as a teenager--basic skills they never got because they weren't required to chip in maintaining their home or family business.  Their loss in the long run.

You might want to consider that the parents involved might not have HAD those skills to teach their children.  My mother used to grouse that her mother never taught her to sew, as if it was a willful refusal of something that COULD have been done if Gram had just been a better parent.  And for years I took that at face value.  But then, it occurred to me that there was ONE person of the siblings (Gram and her two sisters) who could sew, and Grandma wasn't it.  It was her older sister, who indeed was highly skilled in the needle arts, to the point that she won a first prize at the New York Worlds Fair for a crocheted bed spread with no flaws in it.  2nd prize had 1 flaw on the back...  Gram and her younger sister did not sew a stitch.  Whether Nana didn't pass down the skills because she was ill, or life was too tumultuous at that point in time, or what the deal was, I don't know.  But the end result was that Gram didn't know how to sew.  She knew how to garden and decorate and paint, but not how to sew.  So, she didn't have those skills to pass down to mother, and mother had to learn them from teachers.  Which she did, and excelled at.  My mother may sew beautifully, but she has no home repair skills, and I didn't grow up with my father, and don't know what skills he did or did not have. 

Any home repairs I've made myself have been done courtesy YouTube videos.  Or I hire it out.  There are a lot of reasons people don't have skill sets and need to hire things out.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: asb8 on September 30, 2013, 10:22:26 AM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MommyPenguin on September 30, 2013, 10:30:23 AM
There's something to be said for distribution of work, too.  I mean, my husband likes to do renovations and stuff on houses.  He can do electrical work, plumbing, and carpentry.  If he needs to get a project done in a certain time frame, he might hire somebody to do certain tasks.  He'd hire cheap labor to do things like lift drywall, sweep, caulk, stuff like that, because it would cost him a lot more to hire somebody to do electrical work or plumbing.  It doesn't make sense to run out of time and have to hire somebody at $100 to do some plumbing when he could do the plumbing himself and hire somebody at $10 an hour to do some nonskilled or less-skilled work.  I'd imagine it's the same thing whether what you'll be doing is working on a more skilled aspect of a home renovation, or whether you'll be doing the job you earn $30/hour to do, or just reserving time to yourself or to spend with your children (which may be worth far more to you).  Sometimes it's just worth hiring somebody else to do something because you have other ways you want to spend your time.

However, the benefit of having those skills is that you can make the choice.  You can decide whether the size of the job and the time it will take is worth hiring somebody to do or whether you'd rather do it yourself.  You can do it yourself when money is tight, and hire it out when it's not.  You can do it yourself when you need it done urgently, tonight, rather than paying for a rush job.  You can earn a bit extra in tough times by hiring yourself out on evenings or weekends as a handyman.  Not only that, but you'll also be better-equipped to know what a job is worth, whether your handyman did a good job, whether he did the job the *right* way, and even to specify in a contract the way you want a job done.  My husband got much better work done on a house because he knew enough about corners that builders take to specify what kind of materials he wanted, the quality of the job he required, etc.  They knew that he knew what was up, so they were less likely to try to sneak in shoddy work or cheat him, because he'd know.

I think there are ultimately too many unknowns here, about exactly what the teen was doing, whether it was dangerous, whether it was hard, whether the teen got on-the-job training in useful skills or whether he was used as unskilled labor and didn't learn anything, etc.  In terms of not getting paid, we should keep in mind that people used to *pay* to enter an apprenticeship where they would work for free but learn useful skills.  Nowadays it's worth less to learn those skills, so people don't pay to become apprentices, but I could still see there being reasonable trade-offs.  But I think it's hard to know without more details what the job entailed and what the teen gained, if anything, from it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 30, 2013, 10:40:34 AM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I can definately see where a kid would resent doing what you were required to do. If parents allow their desires to complete run rough shod over their kid's then there will be resentment. Our family was big into boating, water skiing, and fishing. We spent a lot of weekens engaged in those activities and often had extended family join us. But one uncle absolutely would have nothing to do with boats. Growing up, his father and mother were passionate sailors. He resented how so much of his free time in the summers and on the weekends were taken up with sailing or boat maintenance that he swore he'd never get on another boat and in his 70 plus years, he never did.

So one summer of this boys life doing hard work with his GP's doesn't sound like something that is going to cause him long term resentment.

And I agree that we do not know enough details.

This could have been GP's who don't take safetly seriously and think "Yippee, lets use our Grandson for the summer to do this fixer upper and then spend the profits on a great vacation."

Or it could have been GP's who say "Sure, he can stay with us for the summer, we'll keep him occuppied. Honey, get out your saftey glasses, retirement is over, we have another kid to teach."

I'm obviously leaning to the second, because I can't imagine a newbie tween home remodeler will be that helpfull to make it that much more profitable for the GP's to decide to do all of that hard work. In my experience as a mom (and as a teen) teaching someone how to do something is much more difficult than actually doing it myself.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: turnip on September 30, 2013, 10:44:21 AM
I think the grandparents could pay the kids for the work--and then deduct for food and board and tuition costs for the skills they are teaching the kids.  I am constantly amazed at adults I know (young and old) who are paying handymen/repairmen for simple things they should have learned to do as a teenager--basic skills they never got because they weren't required to chip in maintaining their home or family business.  Their loss in the long run.

That is a very debatable point.  I have a friend who spend his youth working on cars and now maintains all the family cars at home.  He occasionally confesses to me that he wishes he didn't know a thing - in some ways he'd rather send the car to the dealer, spend the $$, and free up his weekends, but he _can't_ because he _knows_ how much money he'd save by doing the job himself and he no longer trusts dealers to do things properly.   Frankly, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

I've never bought into the 'all kids need to learn basic skills' mentality myself.  I, personally, still can't cook, clean, sew, or do laundry worth a darn.  ( I really can't remember the last time I made the effort to separate my whites. )  Yet I'm happy, successful, love my job and my family, and have few major complaints.  Frankly, the skills I was learning while sitting in front of a computer and _not_ learning to cook are far more lucrative in the modern world. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 30, 2013, 10:46:31 AM
I talked to my mom about this. As children, she and my aunt arose at 5am. They dressed, fed the livestock and poultry, made breakfast for their parents, got their school items together and were driven to school (10 miles each way). After school, they cleaned the barns and pens, groomed the animals, weeded for an hour, then did their homework and cooked dinner.

The work amounted to 15 hours a week and at harvest time, they were paid. They used that money to buy more fashionable clothes for school. I think that is a pretty typical farm kid amount of work.

Very different from 40 hours a week.

How can that be 15 hours a week?  15 hours a week is just over 2 hours a day.  One hour is spent weeding.  So they are able to walk to the barns, feed the livestock and poultry, walk back, make breakfast, then (after school) walk to the barns, clean the barns and pens, and groom the animals, all in one hour?  That seems like a low estimate.  Also, I'd imagine that most farm kids would have more duties on the weekend days.  I'm not saying a 40 hour week, of course, but it seems like it would be more than 15.  Plus summers, too.

They had less work over the cold months as half of the livestock was sold and there was not much to weed. She averaged it out over the whole year.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: fountainof on September 30, 2013, 11:00:40 AM
If the Tween in the OP didn't like doing the work, I wonder what he wanted to do instead.  I find with my sister's kids, they expect when they come over for a few days to be constantly entertained and taken to this and that....  If they say I'm bored I suggest a chore and of course that is no fun as they expect everything to be fun 100% of the time.  My DD on the other hand is only 4.5 and starting early I got her to help here and there around the house.  I don't force her to over extend herself but she does like to help with my home renovation projects, even if just handing me a screwdriver.  She also does things like wash the walls and fold laundry and put away laundry. 

I think chores/home improvement to run a household needs to be shared amongst the family members.  Painting is a home chore that you don't necessarily do every week but you may paint something every year, same with shovelling snow, etc.

If it is business where the family makes money, often children are paid.  I work with clients in agriculture and for work parents would pay a hired man they do pay the child as they would like to increase motivation to stay and be part of the operation long-term.  Sure there are some small jobs in the early years where they children aren't paid as the jobs are small and typically given to the child so they have something to do.   

ETA: Camp - people often pay quite a bit per week to send their kids off for a week or two and camps often require a lot of work on the part of the camper.  Cooking meals, clean up, being a life guard, setting up games for younger campers, etc. and often things you don't enjoy doing but you do it anyway.  Some camps even are training programs in things like cooking or a sport. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: wolfie on September 30, 2013, 11:13:21 AM

I think chores/home improvement to run a household needs to be shared amongst the family members.  Painting is a home chore that you don't necessarily do every week but you may paint something every year, same with shovelling snow, etc.


I don't think my parents painted anything when I was living in that home. Or at least it was so infrequent that I don't remember it. I don't know of anyone who paints something every year.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on September 30, 2013, 11:54:18 AM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

I think that really depends on how it went down.  And well if he decides woodworking/construction isn't his thing? Well, it's still a learning experience either way.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on September 30, 2013, 12:53:19 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

I think that really depends on how it went down.  And well if he decides woodworking/construction isn't his thing? Well, it's still a learning experience either way.

Yes, but isn't everything a learning experience, and he could have been doing something else? Maybe playing sports, and discovering skills there? Or going to the library, and discovering he wanted to be a marine biologist? Maybe developing his own business, like mowing lawns, rather than being told what he has to do every day?

In any case, I feel if you want a boy to do a man's day's work, you either reward him in some way for his efforts, as an adult would expect, or give him the adult's freedom to say "I don't want to do this." You don't give him all the downside of being an adult, and none of the advantages.

(And no, you don't "deduct his room and board" from whatever reward is given. Children are not responsible for being brought into this world, and trying to charge them for their own care is despicable. If the grandparents do not want to pay for looking after their grandchild, they should either refuse in the first place, or take it up with the parents who sent him, not the child himself.)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 30, 2013, 01:25:18 PM
POD to Twik, as usual.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: fountainof on September 30, 2013, 01:49:34 PM
Quote
I don't think my parents painted anything when I was living in that home. Or at least it was so infrequent that I don't remember it. I don't know of anyone who paints something every year.
What do people do about the dings and scuffs on the wall?  I touch up scuffs all the time, I want walls to continue to look new and there is always a project to be done as once you finish one room, the next one needs doing.  Things go out of style within about 5 years so each room will need to be redone in about five years.  I like my home to look like a magazine as much as possible so there are always projects to be done.  I have never not had a project in the 15 years I've been married.

ETA:  I do agree with giving kids options so if the tween in the OP disliked construction and would rather do yard work or cooking as chores I think I would be okay trading it off.  However, if it is necessary to do some chores I wouldn't swap that with say reading but I would still allow free time for play where reading could be done. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: wolfie on September 30, 2013, 01:54:36 PM
Quote
I don't think my parents painted anything when I was living in that home. Or at least it was so infrequent that I don't remember it. I don't know of anyone who paints something every year.
What do people do about the dings and scuffs on the wall?  I touch up scuffs all the time, I want walls to continue to look new and there is always a project to be done as once you finish one room, the next one needs doing.  Things go out of style within about 5 years so each room will need to be redone in about five years.  I like my home to look like a magazine as much as possible so there are always projects to be done.  I have never not had a project in the 15 years I've been married.

Can't say I really notice them. I don't really care about my house being fashionable - i just want to be happy with how it looks. Once a room is done it is done for a long long time = much longer then 5 years! I would say in my parents house that the only reason the bedrooms were done again is because once the kids moved out they didn't need to be bedrooms anymore.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: nuit93 on September 30, 2013, 01:59:13 PM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I have the same attitude when it comes to changing diapers.  My weekends in late elementary/junior high school were devoted to caring for my baby sister since there was no daycare on weekends, mom had to work, and stepdad wouldn't do it since he was 'working' (spend a few hours in the morning working in the garage and then the rest of the afternoon sleeping).

By the time I reached high school I figured I'd done more than my share of diaper duty.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: MommyPenguin on September 30, 2013, 02:09:00 PM
Quote
I don't think my parents painted anything when I was living in that home. Or at least it was so infrequent that I don't remember it. I don't know of anyone who paints something every year.
What do people do about the dings and scuffs on the wall?  I touch up scuffs all the time, I want walls to continue to look new and there is always a project to be done as once you finish one room, the next one needs doing.  Things go out of style within about 5 years so each room will need to be redone in about five years.  I like my home to look like a magazine as much as possible so there are always projects to be done.  I have never not had a project in the 15 years I've been married.

Magic Eraser works pretty well on scuffs on walls.  And wet wipes do wonders for handprints.

Can you come over to my house next?  Mine will never look like a magazine.  Unless it's one of those magazines where it shows the parent with a zillion kids and huge messes and it's for OxiClean or some sort of new vacuum.  :)  Problem is, you have to be able to see the floor to vacuum...
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on September 30, 2013, 02:17:18 PM
Quote
I don't think my parents painted anything when I was living in that home. Or at least it was so infrequent that I don't remember it. I don't know of anyone who paints something every year.
What do people do about the dings and scuffs on the wall?  I touch up scuffs all the time, I want walls to continue to look new and there is always a project to be done as once you finish one room, the next one needs doing.  Things go out of style within about 5 years so each room will need to be redone in about five years.  I like my home to look like a magazine as much as possible so there are always projects to be done.  I have never not had a project in the 15 years I've been married.

When I moved into my apartment I spent the first 2-3 years slowly painting and fixing up my walls with the intention of not having to repaint for 20-30 years if ever (as in I might move out before having to repaint). I've been here 12.75 years and haven't ever repainted or touched anything up. In fact I'm pregnant and re-arranging furniture and such and have no intention of repainting the blue spare bedroom in advance of the birth of my twin girls. Its a lovely blue, they can deal with it.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: oogyda on September 30, 2013, 02:44:49 PM
I think the original post is much too ambiguous. 

She said the dad was okay with the arrangement.  The tween, meh...not so much.  Does that mean he hated every minute of it?  Or, just that he'd rather sleep in and laze away the summer?  Spend his days playing video games?   

It's also not clear on the number of hours the tween was *forced* to participate on any given day.  Also, we don't know if this was the only thing they did with the child or if there were other activities.  Maybe the tween was rewarded with some activity he really liked. 

Personally, I'm grateful for most of the skills I learned growing up even if I don't use them now....at least I could if I had to.  In the family I grew up in and my own family (children and husband), everyone contributed in age appropriate ways.  We did it for the well-being of the family (of which we are members of).  Most times, every red cent was budgeted so paying anyone for any task was out of the question. 

I think the thing I'm most grateful for is the ability to take pride in a job well done whether it's a job I like or not.  Whether it's a job I get rewarded for or not. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: turnip on September 30, 2013, 03:43:18 PM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I have the same attitude when it comes to changing diapers.  My weekends in late elementary/junior high school were devoted to caring for my baby sister since there was no daycare on weekends, mom had to work, and stepdad wouldn't do it since he was 'working' (spend a few hours in the morning working in the garage and then the rest of the afternoon sleeping).

By the time I reached high school I figured I'd done more than my share of diaper duty.

I think this offers a good comparison actually!  Would we feel any different if this tween had been on the hook to provide full time daycare for his baby cousin while both his grandparents worked? ( let's assume they had custody just to make the story simpler )     Is this better because it's a life skill, there are few physical dangers, and in plenty of families the older kids are expected to take care of the younger?  Or is it worse because 'babies, ug!' ;-)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Two Ravens on September 30, 2013, 05:24:16 PM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I have the same attitude when it comes to changing diapers.  My weekends in late elementary/junior high school were devoted to caring for my baby sister since there was no daycare on weekends, mom had to work, and stepdad wouldn't do it since he was 'working' (spend a few hours in the morning working in the garage and then the rest of the afternoon sleeping).

By the time I reached high school I figured I'd done more than my share of diaper duty.

I think this offers a good comparison actually!  Would we feel any different if this tween had been on the hook to provide full time daycare for his baby cousin while both his grandparents worked? ( let's assume they had custody just to make the story simpler )     Is this better because it's a life skill, there are few physical dangers, and in plenty of families the older kids are expected to take care of the younger?  Or is it worse because 'babies, ug!' ;-)

Well, this tween is apparently not trusted to stay by himself, so I don't think we can compare being entrusted full time with an infant to performing work under his grandparents care.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: nuit93 on September 30, 2013, 05:29:18 PM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I have the same attitude when it comes to changing diapers.  My weekends in late elementary/junior high school were devoted to caring for my baby sister since there was no daycare on weekends, mom had to work, and stepdad wouldn't do it since he was 'working' (spend a few hours in the morning working in the garage and then the rest of the afternoon sleeping).

By the time I reached high school I figured I'd done more than my share of diaper duty.

I think this offers a good comparison actually!  Would we feel any different if this tween had been on the hook to provide full time daycare for his baby cousin while both his grandparents worked? ( let's assume they had custody just to make the story simpler )     Is this better because it's a life skill, there are few physical dangers, and in plenty of families the older kids are expected to take care of the younger?  Or is it worse because 'babies, ug!' ;-)

To be fair, I was only expected to do that because I was female.  Had I been a boy I likely would have been made to help out in the garage while a babysitter was hired to care for the diapered one.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: TootsNYC on September 30, 2013, 05:33:54 PM

Well, this tween is apparently not trusted to stay by himself, so I don't think we can compare being entrusted full time with an infant to performing work under his grandparents care.


Honestly, the OP was way too ambiguous.

For all we know, the dad was sent out of the country on business, and the tween needed someone to be sure he was safe, fed, etc.

Or, maybe dad & mom were working (w/ commuting) from 8am to 7pm six days a week--that may be the sort of thing that they didn't want to leave their 11- or 12-year-old home for.

I don't think this arrangement automatically means anything about the untrustworthiness of the kid in question. It may have been more indicative of the parents' attitudes than of the kid's actions.

I just think the OP is such a stark, extreme position. I'm not sure I buy the "40 hours a week, every week, or hard labor" as a reality.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: turnip on September 30, 2013, 05:45:45 PM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I have the same attitude when it comes to changing diapers.  My weekends in late elementary/junior high school were devoted to caring for my baby sister since there was no daycare on weekends, mom had to work, and stepdad wouldn't do it since he was 'working' (spend a few hours in the morning working in the garage and then the rest of the afternoon sleeping).

By the time I reached high school I figured I'd done more than my share of diaper duty.

I think this offers a good comparison actually!  Would we feel any different if this tween had been on the hook to provide full time daycare for his baby cousin while both his grandparents worked? ( let's assume they had custody just to make the story simpler )     Is this better because it's a life skill, there are few physical dangers, and in plenty of families the older kids are expected to take care of the younger?  Or is it worse because 'babies, ug!' ;-)

To be fair, I was only expected to do that because I was female.  Had I been a boy I likely would have been made to help out in the garage while a babysitter was hired to care for the diapered one.

Oh I'm sure that's true - but we are beyond such limited gender expectations - right?  ;D    Would we object to a tween boy being pressed to providing full-time daycare - more so than a tween girl?   
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on September 30, 2013, 06:02:40 PM
I had to do all sorts of manual labor growing up, as my parents flipped houses and owned rental properties. I painted, mowed lawns, weeded, helped carry loads and clean out disgusting properties, assisted with drywall, electric, plumbing ect... This was in addition to their full time jobs, so this was NOT the only source of family income. These were my father's hobbies.

And you know what?

I hated it. I may have learned something by default while assisting on those projects but what I took away from it was not a sense of pride. It was fear of not getting the job done right, it was resentment at having all of my school breaks tied up and it was outright loathing of home repair/maintenance.  I now live in an apartment, with no lawn. My home upkeep is limited to basic cleaning. I feel very strongly that I Have Done My Share of those types of chores and I will pay someone before I do them again.

I have the same attitude when it comes to changing diapers.  My weekends in late elementary/junior high school were devoted to caring for my baby sister since there was no daycare on weekends, mom had to work, and stepdad wouldn't do it since he was 'working' (spend a few hours in the morning working in the garage and then the rest of the afternoon sleeping).

By the time I reached high school I figured I'd done more than my share of diaper duty.

I think this offers a good comparison actually!  Would we feel any different if this tween had been on the hook to provide full time daycare for his baby cousin while both his grandparents worked? ( let's assume they had custody just to make the story simpler )     Is this better because it's a life skill, there are few physical dangers, and in plenty of families the older kids are expected to take care of the younger?  Or is it worse because 'babies, ug!' ;-)

To be fair, I was only expected to do that because I was female.  Had I been a boy I likely would have been made to help out in the garage while a babysitter was hired to care for the diapered one.

Oh I'm sure that's true - but we are beyond such limited gender expectations - right?  ;D    Would we object to a tween boy being pressed to providing full-time daycare - more so than a tween girl?

I don't know... seems to me many posters on this thread have jumped to the conclusion the "tween" the OP referenced in a boy based... nothing other then the type of work they were asked to do (or so it seems). The OP never specified a gender.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 30, 2013, 06:05:46 PM
I know a couple Kate and Tony who have three grown children. When their children were younger Kate and Tony made their living flipping houses. Flipping a house (for those who may not know) means purchasing a house at a much reduced rate due to the home needing repairs. You then fix up the house, or hire professions to do so, then sell the house at a profit. Kate and Tony also purchased there own residences this way. Kate and Tony would do the work themselves while using the children as free labor. Every minute of spare time was spent doing this.

Fast forward a number of years and Kate and Tony's son has a tweenaged child of his own who needed supervision for the summer. Kate and Tony agree to watch him. At the same time the details are being ironed out Kate and Tony purchase another home to flip. Unbeknownst to Son, Tween is used as free labor on this project. As you can imagine Son found out right away (but after labor had been done). Luckily Son was ok with this, Tween not to much  ;D

Now I personally don't think that kids should be used as free labor in their parents ventures but I think that is a private family issue. I guess I just don't like the idea of kids being used as servants just because they are kids and not in control of their lives so to speak.

My real question is what is the obligation on a "babysitter" to let a parent know that they plan to use their child for labor? Does it matter if it's for their job as opposed to say cleaning their home, or doing yard work?

I have no children but I think it would really chap my hide to find out that my kid was used for free labor of any sorts. If you agree to watch my (non existent) child I would never imagine he or she would be put to work.

Original post indicates a male child.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Eeep! on September 30, 2013, 06:17:39 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

I think that really depends on how it went down.  And well if he decides woodworking/construction isn't his thing? Well, it's still a learning experience either way.

Yes, but isn't everything a learning experience, and he could have been doing something else? Maybe playing sports, and discovering skills there? Or going to the library, and discovering he wanted to be a marine biologist? Maybe developing his own business, like mowing lawns, rather than being told what he has to do every day?

In any case, I feel if you want a boy to do a man's day's work, you either reward him in some way for his efforts, as an adult would expect, or give him the adult's freedom to say "I don't want to do this." You don't give him all the downside of being an adult, and none of the advantages.

(And no, you don't "deduct his room and board" from whatever reward is given. Children are not responsible for being brought into this world, and trying to charge them for their own care is despicable. If the grandparents do not want to pay for looking after their grandchild, they should either refuse in the first place, or take it up with the parents who sent him, not the child himself.)

I agree with this.

edited to fix quote screw up.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on September 30, 2013, 06:30:43 PM
I think that its an ideal opportunity honestly.  The skills that this kid could learn would be very valuable down the line not only in getting a summer job when he's old enough but not having to hire a handyman to do household tasks.

Or he could decide he hated it so much he will never pick up another tool in his life and then either always hire someone or let it fall apart if he can't afford it.

I think that really depends on how it went down.  And well if he decides woodworking/construction isn't his thing? Well, it's still a learning experience either way.

Yes, but isn't everything a learning experience, and he could have been doing something else? Maybe playing sports, and discovering skills there? Or going to the library, and discovering he wanted to be a marine biologist? Maybe developing his own business, like mowing lawns, rather than being told what he has to do every day?

In any case, I feel if you want a boy to do a man's day's work, you either reward him in some way for his efforts, as an adult would expect, or give him the adult's freedom to say "I don't want to do this." You don't give him all the downside of being an adult, and none of the advantages.

(And no, you don't "deduct his room and board" from whatever reward is given. Children are not responsible for being brought into this world, and trying to charge them for their own care is despicable. If the grandparents do not want to pay for looking after their grandchild, they should either refuse in the first place, or take it up with the parents who sent him, not the child himself.)

Well I certainly agree with your last paragraph.  I also disagree with people who have the attitude that a kid owes them anything because the parents or guardians did what parents and guardians are expected to do. Ie feed, clothe, house, pay for medical expenses till the child's 18 or off their medical insurance. 

We built a room in our basement for our oldest child since we bought a 3br not expecting a third child.  And even though our children are of the same gender and thus could share a room, we wanted them to have their own so they could have their privacy.  We did not expect the child to help build his own room, however.  Having helped in putting up drywall, taping and mudding it, I can say that it's not something I'd be enlisting a kid to do. 

Course on the other hand there is the "Habitat for Humanity" charity which does welcome the help of teens. Having never done that myself I really don't know what sort of tasks they assign the teens to do.  Course that's also a volunteer thing, not a voluntold situation.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: JoieGirl7 on September 30, 2013, 06:34:33 PM
And since the parents brought the kid into the world it is up to them to decide what values they will impart to that child and how that will be done.

This really seems to be more of a parenting issue than an etiquette issue.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Iris on September 30, 2013, 07:05:19 PM

I think chores/home improvement to run a household needs to be shared amongst the family members.  Painting is a home chore that you don't necessarily do every week but you may paint something every year, same with shovelling snow, etc.


I don't think my parents painted anything when I was living in that home. Or at least it was so infrequent that I don't remember it. I don't know of anyone who paints something every year.

You do now! I have a deep, abiding love of bright colours and an short boredom threshold. The solution? Paint odd walls in my house bright colours at various times, whenever I feel like it and have an empty weekend or so. That would average out about once a year. DD1 doesn't help but DD2 does 'help' because she loves it, and I will say that I agree with those that say that having a tween help actually makes more work. My home looks more like a madhouse than a magazine, but I like it :) Having said that, the boring, neutral walls (bleaugh) all need redoing and I may well pay someone to do those because it's just not any fun at all.

My personal feeling is that the situation in the OP is probably not as dire as it is painted. In my family it would have been a case of "Well, we're flipping this home so we have to be there working on it and you'll have to come with us. Now you're here it's better to make yourself useful than to sit around playing with your phone all day." I can see a tween hating that but frankly it's not the end of the world to have one boring summer. I doubt he was any real use beyond fetching and carrying and if he was bored enough to have an attitude he was probably a burden more than anything.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: blarg314 on September 30, 2013, 07:20:44 PM
I do figure that if a kid is old enough to work full time in the family business/hobby, they are old enough to be paid reasonably for their work. A case where their labour is needed to keep the family fed and housed is a little different, but this situation isn't that - this is a hobby for the grandparents, not a matter of financial survival.

And yes, they could subtract off room/board/utilities and pay their grandson what remains of a fair wage. Personally, I think that's very weird message to give to a tween, though, as in our society expecting a kid that age to pay for their keep is very unusual; it's generally regarded as the parents' responsibility to feed/clothe/house their kid.

I do think safety is an issue here. It doesn't sound like said tween is experienced in home repair, construction, or working around electrical projects and so on. And teens are particularly vulnerable to unsafe or unfair work conditions, partly because of lack of experience/judgement, and partly because of the power imbalance. If a kid can be told, on the first day of vacation, "Oh, by the way - this summer you're working 40 hour weeks renovating a house. No, you don't get any say, you don't get a vacation this year, and no, you don't get paid. I don't care if you don't like it, you're doing it anyways," then they *don't* have the power to speak up and say "I don't feel safe doing that" or "I don't want to go up on the roof on a ladder" or "that's too heavy for me", because the power balance is do what you are told and don't talk back. And if they aren't comfortable, unlike an adult, they cannot leave, and cannot refuse to do the work.

As an aside - I grew up with parents who were big do-it-yourselfers. My dad built an extension on the house (legally), we had a big vegetable garden, my parents did all their painting/papering/flooring themselves. I know how to do much of this myself. But I've spent my entire adult life in rental apartments, where anything more complicated than changing a lightbulb  has to be done by the landlord.

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: esposita on September 30, 2013, 08:15:37 PM
And since the parents brought the kid into the world it is up to them to decide what values they will impart to that child and how that will be done.

This really seems to be more of a parenting issue than an etiquette issue.

ITA with this, and with the others who are saying that there is just no way we have enough info to make a judgment in this case. The "character's" upbringings, personalities, lifestyles, and relationships with each other...there are just so many, many different ways this could have played out!
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: flickan on September 30, 2013, 08:50:31 PM
Tried to read most of the replies before commenting on this one because it's an interesting predicament.

I see that sort of "put the kid to work" mentality as really old-school parenting and not wrong, just old-fashioned.  This is the way both my mother and father were raised back in the 50s and the 60s.  My father was expected to wake up early to milk cows every morning from a young age and he was responsible for chores that I probably would have balked at.  He "earned his keep" so to speak.  My mother was the oldest of a litter of children and become a second mother, taking care of the younger siblings as they came.

If you asked either of them if they were used by their parents unfairly I think they would honestly be surprised at the question.  But I come from families that were ultra-traditional, strict, and hard-working.  My aunt worked not only worked her children but required them to take part time jobs as soon as it was legal (15 I believe) so they could help her pay rent.  My childhood was nothing like this but if my parents did ask me to do something you better believe it got down without any expectation of compensation.  We had an allowance but we weren't paid to do chores, chores were just expected.

I would not have enjoyed the kind of childhood my parents had.  But there do seem to be benefits, chiefly a strong work ethic and little sense of entitlement.

In this situation I think as long as the parents are okay with it then nothing bad is happening here.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Daquiri40 on October 01, 2013, 10:09:45 AM
If the dad knew what his parents were like, he knew what situation he was putting his child into. 

Were the grandparents supposed to remodel, paint, and do whatever it takes to fix the house and let the kid play video games or sleep or watch television? 

This is bringing back a bad memory of helping a friend paint her living room while her daughter (14) played video games in the middle of the room.  The daughter did not lift a finger but commented how we should have used primer before painting. 

Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on October 01, 2013, 10:26:55 AM
In this situation I think as long as the parents are okay with it then nothing bad is happening here.

Other than, perhaps, the grandparents may wonder why Little Ethelbert, now grown to Bert the Adult, does not visit them a lot.

That, of course, depends on so many variables. Each situation is different. Older Bert may look back and remember the summer as a lot of fun knocking down walls and doing manly stuff, even if he didn't quite appreciate it at the time. Or, he may look at it as a time of unpaid labour with no other benefits at all. If it is the latter, it's probably done their relationship no good. If the former, it may have been a bonding time.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on October 01, 2013, 11:52:03 AM
flickan wrote:

"My father was expected to wake up early to milk cows every morning from a young age and he was responsible for chores that I probably would have balked at.  He "earned his keep" so to speak.  My mother was the oldest of a litter of children and become a second mother, taking care of the younger siblings as they came."

The breakdown here that I see is that your parents were directly contributing to the basic upkeep of the household in which they lived.  This boy was pressed into full time work to support a project taken on as a side industry (CoCoCamm wrote that this was the first house they'd bought to flip in nearly a decade) by his grandparents for their own benefit.  I feel this changes the dynamic of the whole thing by quite a bit, because he's not putting in effort so that his family will have food on their table, he's putting in a massive amount of work for a child so that the grands can make money off what can reasonably be called a hobby at this point.


Daquiri40 wrote:

"Were the grandparents supposed to remodel, paint, and do whatever it takes to fix the house and let the kid play video games or sleep or watch television?"

You aren't the first poster to ask this question, and the question I ask in response is, are the only two choices to let him laze about entirely or make him work an adult-grade full time job for weeks?  Is there nothing on the continuum in between those extremes that would be more suitable for a tween?

Virg
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Sophia on October 01, 2013, 12:06:10 PM
Yes, I think those were the only two choices.  Work alongside them, or laze about their house without supervision.  Since this is a kid needing supervision, lazing about the house is probably the best of the possible outcomes, with the alternative being getting into trouble.
I guess there is a third.  For the summer, abandon the expensive project that they started before they were asked to watch the kid. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on October 01, 2013, 12:10:46 PM
They started the project after agreeing to watch their grandson.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: CocoCamm on October 01, 2013, 12:11:59 PM
OP here~I apologize for my tardiness in getting back to the thread.

To fill in some more blanks....Kate & Tony are my inlaws and Tween is my nephew. I've purposefully excluded exact details because my in laws and somewhat internet savvy and I the situation is so unique I didn't want them to be able to recognize themselves. That being said, my husband lived at home at the time as we were just dating back then so we were privy to all the details of the project and yes they did work on the house 40 hours a week and yes Tween did do all the projects I previously mentioned. I have no reason to believe that my in laws would fib about that.

I find all the perspectives here very interesting as I was raised in a middle class suburb where no kids in my family or social circles worked to help support the family/family business. That doesn't mean we were raised without chores or without being instilled with a work ethic.

While I do find it outside of my realm of experience I don't judge parents who chose to raise their kids this way. I may feel a twinge of sympathy for a child who has to work to help support the family but it's none of my business and I certainly wouldn't comment unless asked for my opinion. I doubt this will ever happen as no one I know raises their kids this way.

I really was just wondering if it's ok to make someone else's child do manual labor and I see that the majority feels that a Grandparent has a higher authority over a non family member babysitter and therefore has the right. So now I wonder if you know that a grandparent may ask your child to do manual labor do you have the preemptive conversation of "please ask me permission before you task my child with any work?"

FWIW the situation I posed in the OP happened many moons ago. I was just reminded of it because my in laws are looking to purchase a new home and of course all the ones they are looking at require a ton of work, that plus the fact that my husband and I are looking to start a family soon, plus my wild imagination sparked the question :)

I think I might be OK with my hypothetical kid being put to work if I knew beforehand what the deal was and I could talk it out with my kid.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Twik on October 01, 2013, 12:13:02 PM
Yes, I think those were the only two choices.  Work alongside them, or laze about their house without supervision.  Since this is a kid needing supervision, lazing about the house is probably the best of the possible outcomes, with the alternative being getting into trouble.
I guess there is a third.  For the summer, abandon the expensive project that they started before they were asked to watch the kid.

I am assuming that "supervision" here means "an adult in charge," not "someone to watch him every single moment of the day." For example, my cautious father would not let me be left home alone even for an afternoon at that age. And I was not a kid likely to get into trouble.

I think the etiquette issue for a child is that (1) there be some effort to make him *want* to take part, and (2) he should be warned about the plans before landing at his grandparents.

If someone asked you to come visit them, and when you arrived, they handed you an ax and told you that you would be working full days cutting down some trees on the property that your friends wanted gone, would you not be a little taken aback? And rather insulted if, when you showed a low level of enthusiasm for a chore for which you were not prepared, and would receive no particular benefit yourself, you were told you were lazy for not being up for it?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Judah on October 01, 2013, 12:21:43 PM
So now I wonder if you know that a grandparent may ask your child to do manual labor do you have the preemptive conversation of "please ask me permission before you task my child with any work?"

I think you're going to get the same wide variety of answers to this question that you got to the first one. My parents wouldn't have asked my permission to put my kids to work and it wouldn't occur to me to have a conversation about it preemptively. My parents would just know that putting my kids to work would be fine with me. My family is used to pulling together when things need to get done, no special conversations would be necessary.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: magicdomino on October 01, 2013, 12:30:33 PM
I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

Actually, I'd rather be tearing down drywall than standing around for 8 hours, waiting to hand someone a screwdriver when asked. Could there be anything more perfect for driving you mad with boredom?

I believe demolition work was mentioned.  Can you imagine a 12 year old boy's delight at being told, "Here's a hammer.  Go for it."  Sanding new drywall, on the other hand, is easy enough for a boy, but booorrring.   :)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: wolfie on October 01, 2013, 12:31:36 PM
I see Tween's work as more of the "hand me that screwdriver" or "fetch the tape measure and sweep that crap off the floor" and the story wasn't told completely truthfully to either the parents or the OP.

This is coloring my attitude and where I am coming from as well.  Personally, I have met a few Tweens who were not Drama Tweens, but they are few and far-between.

Actually, I'd rather be tearing down drywall than standing around for 8 hours, waiting to hand someone a screwdriver when asked. Could there be anything more perfect for driving you mad with boredom?

I believe demolition work was mentioned.  Can you imagine a 12 year old boy's delight at being told, "Here's a hammer.  Go for it."  Sanding new drywall, on the other hand, is easy enough for a boy, but booorrring.   :)

Last time I sanded drywall I was in pain for days - my shoulders and upper back are not used to doing that motion repeatedly.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on October 01, 2013, 12:44:56 PM
They started the project after agreeing to watch their grandson.

They started the work after they agreed to watch the kid but the work was planned and the paperwork started on purchasing the house before agreeing to the kid - they would have done the work with or without the kids help:

...So the house they purchased when Tween came to stay (this was a coincidence, paperwork on the house started before they were asked to watch Tween) was the first house in almost a decade so Son really had no reason to think Tween would be used for labor...
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Isilleke on October 01, 2013, 01:03:31 PM
I still believe that they (parents and grandparents) should have gone over the expectations about the stay.

That said, I also think that, if I were the babysitter/grandparent and we didn't have that conversation, I can do as I see fit.

<cut down the quotation tree>

Yes, but isn't everything a learning experience, and he could have been doing something else? Maybe playing sports, and discovering skills there? Or going to the library, and discovering he wanted to be a marine biologist? Maybe developing his own business, like mowing lawns, rather than being told what he has to do every day?

In any case, I feel if you want a boy to do a man's day's work, you either reward him in some way for his efforts, as an adult would expect, or give him the adult's freedom to say "I don't want to do this." You don't give him all the downside of being an adult, and none of the advantages.

(And no, you don't "deduct his room and board" from whatever reward is given. Children are not responsible for being brought into this world, and trying to charge them for their own care is despicable. If the grandparents do not want to pay for looking after their grandchild, they should either refuse in the first place, or take it up with the parents who sent him, not the child himself.)

I also agree with Twik.

On top of all that, I do have another question. There seem to be some posters who really have something against the tween doing absolutely nothing while having vacation. But I have to admit, when I have vacation, I too take at least a couple of days of from absolutely everything. Why can't a tween do the same? I'm not saying they shouldn't lift a finger for the whole time, but I know I also need/want at least 3 or 4 days that I don't HAVE to do anything...
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: turnip on October 01, 2013, 01:30:45 PM
I just realized that I'm lucky that my able-bodied child is a girl - because my FIL has a sizable chunk of land, insists on doing all his own maintenance, and does not have a history of good judgment of what tasks he or his friends/children are capable of taking on.  I can easily see him talking <hypothetical son> in to helping him load a pile of cinder-blocks into a wheelbarrow and pushing it uphill - but "Don't tell your Mom! < wink >"

I'm pretty sure my daughter's gender will protect her from these tasks.   That's actually quite a relief.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: oogyda on October 01, 2013, 01:32:45 PM
Well, a 40 hour work week still leaves the weekends free.  Unless, of course, it's stretched out over all 7 days....but then it's a less than 6 hour work day.  Not stressful at all.

While the OP didn't specifically say that the kid had some time off, I would think he did simply because the grandparents probably wanted a break as well.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 01, 2013, 02:19:43 PM
Quote
I really was just wondering if it's ok to make someone else's child do manual labor and I see that the majority feels that a Grandparent has a higher authority over a non family member babysitter and therefore has the right. So now I wonder if you know that a grandparent may ask your child to do manual labor do you have the preemptive conversation of "please ask me permission before you task my child with any work?"


I think it depends so much on how much you trust your parents, your relationship with them, and the actual issue.

With my parents, had they been alive when I had kids, they would have been given free reign to assign chores or work to the kids while the kids were staying with them. I know they would only assign age appropriate tasks, make the experience educational and fun, but also make the kids feel like they'd accomplished something.

What I would have had to set rules on would be restricting my Dad on the amount of sweet treats and cokes he would have given them and threatened him with a complete cutoff if he offered by teen son a cigar.  With my mom, it would have been "don't let them sleep all day and quit waiting on them hand and foot, and no, I know you let me drive at 15 but it was different then and she is not allowed to."  (I had older sisters and watched what my parents pulled with their kids.)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: ladyknight1 on October 01, 2013, 02:28:16 PM
As a parent, I am glad that scenario would never fly between either set of grandparents and DS.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: SpikeMichigan on October 01, 2013, 04:23:49 PM

 Honestly, I think the situation described is complete extortion, and basically slave labour. The kid had no say in being forced to work a full time job, that health and safety regs would probably strongly object to a pre-teen doing.

 Whats minimum wage? 10 an hour? 40 hours a week, 12 weeks - thats nearly 5 grand they would have paid an outsider, that they get for free? Its total extortion. And, yes, you could deduct rent and food from that, but thats still a huge amount of money to be withholding for work done.

 An incident like this would have crippled any relationship I had with grandparents - every time I saw them when I was older I'd just think of how they effectively forced me into several thousand bucks/pounds worth of work.

 Just my take of course, I do understand that there are other angles.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Peregrine on October 01, 2013, 04:36:17 PM
OP here~I apologize for my tardiness in getting back to the thread.

I really was just wondering if it's ok to make someone else's child do manual labor and I see that the majority feels that a Grandparent has a higher authority over a non family member babysitter and therefore has the right. So now I wonder if you know that a grandparent may ask your child to do manual labor do you have the preemptive conversation of "please ask me permission before you task my child with any work?"

I think I might be OK with my hypothetical kid being put to work if I knew beforehand what the deal was and I could talk it out with my kid.

In response to your question; I would never dream of having my parents ask permission to put my kiddo to work.  If I'm in a position of having to ask the enormous favor of having my parents provide full time daycare/supervision for a summer, then I'm in no position to start putting restrictions or conditions on their planned activities/jobs.

But I'm also looking at this from the perspective that I trust my parents not to task my child with age inappropriate activities.  If I found out that my hypothetical tween had refused to help out his grandparents in favor of lazing around all day, there would be heck to pay and he would be working twice as hard to make up for it.  This comes down to family dynamics, culture, relationships and a whole host of other things.  I and my husband work hard to provide a nice home, fun toys, educational opportunities, family vacations, books and all the other things that make a fun/safe/educational childhood, if my child refused to help out with family obligations all those fun things would be coming to screeching stop.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: maia on October 01, 2013, 04:52:32 PM
Many thanks to the OP for posting this thread - I've found it fascinating. Iím a longtime lurker, but I couldnít resist posting  :).

I'm no fan of coddling children (and am childfree), but 40 hours a week for a twelve year old is simply too much, IMO. At that age I'd be fine with part-time job hours (20ish or maybe a bit more), but I believe that kids should have the time to be kids and pursue creative and athletic pursuits.  I also believe they should have some choice in what work tasks they do, and they should be paid minimum wage or a reasonable equivalent.

In my own case, I had no choice about what jobs I had to do when I was growing up, I was not paid, and when my work was not up to my parents' standards, I was punished. Further, I donít believe that I learned much of substantive value, even when I worked with/for my father, who built homes in his spare time. People are quite capable of acquiring new skills as adults if itís something they want to know how to do, and Iíd much prefer to take a certified class led by a professional with time out for donut breaks and questions than be rushed through learning a task and then having to do it all over again when my performance was found to be lacking. Obviously, there were other family issues in my case, but I donít agree that all childhood work (beyond household chores) is necessarily a good thing or leads to learning something positive.

To the posters who've stated that injury concerns might be overblown - I was injured while driving a tractor on our family farm when I was 16 (we spent the summers there, but did not live there) doing a relatively innocuous task, a fairly minor but tenacious injury that I've lived with ever since (I'm 41 now). I had to take over the cost of treating this injury when I left home at 19, and Iíve spent a ton of money on medical bills over the years, as it requires ongoing care and will for the rest of my life (I'm getting a treatment tomorrow, as a matter of fact). Even if a task appears relatively safe, there's always still the chance of things going wrong.  If everyoneís on board, (and I include the child in this, absolutely), with regards to the activities that are being undertaken (contact sports, construction work, etc.) then itís just one of those unfortunate things we have to live with, but if the kid didnít consent to being in that situation in the first place, I think it makes things muddier.  Obviously, the seriousness of the injury and the family dynamic are important factors. (In my particular case, the conditions were not unsafe, it was really just one of those things, but my quality of life and pocketbook would have been better off without it).

On another note, Iím a little suspicious that the parent in this story, who grew up with this type of work being a normal part of life, might have been used to deferring to his parents about these types of issues, and might have been obeying a parent vs. making a decision in the best interests of their own child. Where the etiquette and parenting breach occurred, IMO, was when the grandparents did not speak to their child about their plans, and the tween was not consulted with regards to how he was going to spend his summer.  The real metric, as far as Iím concerned, is that the tween was ultimately unhappy about the arrangement. I agree with previous posters that some kids that age might be prone to being somewhat dramatic and non-compliant, but that doesnít mean that the tweenís feelings were of no importance.

I'm curious, OP, what does the son who did all this work think about this now, and what impact has it had on him and his relationship with his parents? If it was a minor inconvenience that has never been repeated and has long been forgotten, then it sounds like the family dynamic is a good one, and this was just one of those things. 

In any case, sorry about writing a book, but Iíve really enjoyed reading the responses, and Iíve never really thought about my own childhood labour as something that had anything to do with choice.  Interesting discussion!
--Maia
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: WillyNilly on October 01, 2013, 04:57:08 PM

 Honestly, I think the situation described is complete extortion, and basically slave labour. The kid had no say in being forced to work a full time job, that health and safety regs would probably strongly object to a pre-teen doing.

Whats minimum wage? 10 an hour? 40 hours a week, 12 weeks - thats nearly 5 grand they would have paid an outsider, that they get for free? Its total extortion. And, yes, you could deduct rent and food from that, but thats still a huge amount of money to be withholding for work done.

 An incident like this would have crippled any relationship I had with grandparents - every time I saw them when I was older I'd just think of how they effectively forced me into several thousand bucks/pounds worth of work.

 Just my take of course, I do understand that there are other angles.

I get your point but your numbers don't work, at least not for everywhere. Minimum wages varies with plenty of states having it set at $7.25 an hour. And summer vacation varies too - in my city its 9 weeks not 12. Which puts the labor at just over $2,600, a far cry from $5k.

And family dynamics change things too, because I can say in my family my grandparents set up a fund for each grandkid that they paid small amounts into each year and upon turning 18 the kid got $5,000. And then included us generously in their wills, plus were very generous throughout life with all sorts of big gifts. So one summer of free labor really would still have the kid making out pretty darn well in the long run.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: EllenS on October 01, 2013, 05:41:56 PM
I'm with those who say, it comes down to trust.  If you trust your parents/inlaws to treat your kids in a loving and age-appropriate way, what is the problem?

[reiterating the fact that the boys' parents did not have a problem with it, even without prior clearance.]

If you don't trust your parents/in-laws to treat your child in loving and age-appropriate way, don't leave your kids with them.

There are enough examples on this thread of work being a positive, or negative, childhood experience, that I come back to the point:
it's not about the work
it's not about the money
it's about the relationship.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Daquiri40 on October 01, 2013, 07:09:47 PM
When I was a kid (ages 7 and up), we painted a room in our house every year.  I did the woodwork.  I did walls.  One day was kitchen day where we all had to pick a cupboard, empty it out, and scrub it out.

My father was the son of farmer - if you don't work; you do not deserve to eat.
My mother was the daughter of a woman who worked three jobs to provide for her children.

I cannot imagine going to stay with my grandparents for any amount of time and not have to do something.

Construction may be pretty intense but doing something is not out of the question.  Is painting for a few hours or helping out considered too much?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Figgie on October 01, 2013, 07:42:12 PM
My Dad started working in the potato fields at age 6 and all of the money he earned was used to help support the family.  When he was 14, he took a bus to a larger city and worked in a meat packing plant while living at the local YMCA and sent the money he earned home to his family.

My Mom started working in a restaurant washing dishes at age 13, was a waitress at age 15 and held that and a job at a movie theater until she turned 17 whereupon she was working 20 hours a week during the school  year and 45 hours a week during the summer at the local Woolworths store.  The money she earned was used to help support her family.

I was babysitting when I was 10 years old and by the time I was 12, I was doing full-time 40 plus hours a week daycare for two younger children during the summer.  During the school year I probably worked about 20 hours doing babysitting on weekends/evenings.  The money I earned was used to help support the family, as was the money my brother earned from lawn care and shoveling snow and my sister from her baby sitting. 

My Dad painted houses during the summer (teacher, so he had summers off but no pay at that time) and all of us kids painted with him from the time we were old enough to get up on a ladder.  And no, we weren't paid for any of the work that we did painting...our helping meant that Dad could bid and get more jobs and earn more money and his earning that money meant the difference between food on the table or going hungry.

I've talked with my siblings and none of us felt at all used and abused any more than our parents felt used and abused.  It was just the way things were.  We worked to help support our families and all of us felt/feel a great deal of pride in how much we were able to accomplish and how responsible we were for putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads from a very young age.

I never had any objection to my parents putting my kids to work.  The kids did less work than we did, but that is primarily because the family economics had improved from when we were kids. 

I knew my parents were doing the absolute best that they could and was not resentful either as a child or an adult. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: esposita on October 01, 2013, 07:50:25 PM
I'm with those who say, it comes down to trust.  If you trust your parents/inlaws to treat your kids in a loving and age-appropriate way, what is the problem?

[reiterating the fact that the boys' parents did not have a problem with it, even without prior clearance.]

If you don't trust your parents/in-laws to treat your child in loving and age-appropriate way, don't leave your kids with them.

There are enough examples on this thread of work being a positive, or negative, childhood experience, that I come back to the point:
it's not about the work
it's not about the money
it's about the relationship.

Yes, exactly. Very well put. :-)
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: blarg314 on October 01, 2013, 08:06:18 PM

I do find the argument that the kid needs supervision and can't be left alone an interesting one, given the job he was expected to do.

My nephew's after school program ends when he turns 12. His parents have to figure out an alternative after school plan for him, because he's *not* a kid who can be left alone for a few hours every day after school - he's impulsive, tends not to listen to instructions, and is inclined to get silly/over-excited and do dumb things.

For those very same reasons, there is absolutely no way he could be trusted on a construction site because he would be dangerous, to himself and to others.

So I'm having trouble seeing how a kid could be trusted to do what sounds like fairly hard core construction tasks involving roofing work, demolishing walls, and electrical/plumbing work - the kind of thing where, even with supervision, a certain level of common sense, responsibility and judgement is required or it's dangerous -  but not be trusted to be alone in a house by himself during the day.


Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: esposita on October 01, 2013, 08:26:34 PM

I do find the argument that the kid needs supervision and can't be left alone an interesting one, given the job he was expected to do.

My nephew's after school program ends when he turns 12. His parents have to figure out an alternative after school plan for him, because he's *not* a kid who can be left alone for a few hours every day after school - he's impulsive, tends not to listen to instructions, and is inclined to get silly/over-excited and do dumb things.

For those very same reasons, there is absolutely no way he could be trusted on a construction site because he would be dangerous, to himself and to others.

So I'm having trouble seeing how a kid could be trusted to do what sounds like fairly hard core construction tasks involving roofing work, demolishing walls, and electrical/plumbing work - the kind of thing where, even with supervision, a certain level of common sense, responsibility and judgement is required or it's dangerous -  but not be trusted to be alone in a house by himself during the day.

See, to me it seems perfectly reasonable that a kid who couldn't be left home alone all day because he'd not spend his time wisely (or because he'd get into trouble of some kind) would be just fine under the watchful eye of a grandparent. I mean, they were probably right there with him, instructing him, since I gather from the OP that he's not done this type of work before. I can't let my kids gather eggs or feed the chickens by themselves because they are too young, but they are very capable when they are being watched and directed.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: TootsNYC on October 01, 2013, 08:59:42 PM
...are the only two choices to let him laze about entirely or make him work an adult-grade full time job for weeks?  Is there nothing on the continuum in between those extremes that would be more suitable for a tween?

Virg

We have no way to know exactly what the teen in question was asked to do.
He could have been at the job site all day, and yet not doing adult-grade work.

He might have been allowed to take big rests, or delegated to holding doors and ladders, or designated to carry out smaller pieces of drywall after Grandpa sledgehammered them.

As for injuries--my DD hurt her foot in a sports activity--it may dog her the rest of her life.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: nolechica on October 01, 2013, 10:15:00 PM
I think the grandparents could pay the kids for the work--and then deduct for food and board and tuition costs for the skills they are teaching the kids.  I am constantly amazed at adults I know (young and old) who are paying handymen/repairmen for simple things they should have learned to do as a teenager--basic skills they never got because they weren't required to chip in maintaining their home or family business.  Their loss in the long run.

That is a very debatable point.  I have a friend who spend his youth working on cars and now maintains all the family cars at home.  He occasionally confesses to me that he wishes he didn't know a thing - in some ways he'd rather send the car to the dealer, spend the $$, and free up his weekends, but he _can't_ because he _knows_ how much money he'd save by doing the job himself and he no longer trusts dealers to do things properly.   Frankly, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

I've never bought into the 'all kids need to learn basic skills' mentality myself.  I, personally, still can't cook, clean, sew, or do laundry worth a darn.  ( I really can't remember the last time I made the effort to separate my whites. )  Yet I'm happy, successful, love my job and my family, and have few major complaints.  Frankly, the skills I was learning while sitting in front of a computer and _not_ learning to cook are far more lucrative in the modern world.

Exactly, I'm no good at manual labor or sewing, I can cook or bake, but only do so for special occasions.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: LifeOnPluto on October 01, 2013, 10:18:11 PM


You aren't the first poster to ask this question, and the question I ask in response is, are the only two choices to let him laze about entirely or make him work an adult-grade full time job for weeks?  Is there nothing on the continuum in between those extremes that would be more suitable for a tween?

Virg

I agree. Many posters here seem to be assuming that, if not working on construction 40 hours a week, the Tween would be lazing around on his bum the whole time. I personally think that's a rather unfair assumption. There's lots of constructive things a 12 year old could do with their summer holidays. Some that spring to mind include:

- Mowing neighbours' lawns / weeding their gardens (and thus, earning his OWN pocket money);
- Reading next year's textbooks (and thus, giving himself an advantage in class when school goes back);
- Getting a baseball team (or cricket team, if the OP is in the UK or a Commonwealth country) together with other kids, and practising his sports skills;
- Engaging in a positive and interesting hobby, such as building a model ship, or learning how to play chess, etc.

Who's to say that this Tween wouldn't have been keen to do any of the above?
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: nolechica on October 01, 2013, 10:26:48 PM
This is an interesting thread to me because I spent summer time with my grandparents, but not 9-12 weeks.  After a week of chores for them I'd have called my mom (her parents) and said I want to come home.  Vacation is supposed to be just that.  And no I wouldn't object to setting table, cleaning room, folding laundry stuff.  Just an unwanted, unpaid job as a kid.  And yes those grandparents were the sort that grew up on farms and would so have done this if they could.  Fortunately, they were 70+ not 50+.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Library Dragon on October 01, 2013, 11:50:03 PM
It's not unusual today for teens to be working on family farms during harvest time.  In high schools in my county it's common for teens to be out for a week or two in October for cotton or soy bean harvest.  It's the family business and everyone pulls their weight.  The school home work is often built around multi week papers rather than daily assignments.   

I cannot recall any teen that has resented it.  Many head off to college to major it agriculture, business (so that they can help manage that aspect of the family farm), etc.  The only person that I've met that didn't return to the family farm majored in turf management and opened a lawn care business.  I'm sure there are those who say, "I never want to do this again."  I've just not encountered any in the past 20 years. 
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Iris on October 01, 2013, 11:57:43 PM
My Dad started working in the potato fields at age 6 and all of the money he earned was used to help support the family.  When he was 14, he took a bus to a larger city and worked in a meat packing plant while living at the local YMCA and sent the money he earned home to his family.

My Mom started working in a restaurant washing dishes at age 13, was a waitress at age 15 and held that and a job at a movie theater until she turned 17 whereupon she was working 20 hours a week during the school  year and 45 hours a week during the summer at the local Woolworths store.  The money she earned was used to help support her family.

I was babysitting when I was 10 years old and by the time I was 12, I was doing full-time 40 plus hours a week daycare for two younger children during the summer.  During the school year I probably worked about 20 hours doing babysitting on weekends/evenings.  The money I earned was used to help support the family, as was the money my brother earned from lawn care and shoveling snow and my sister from her baby sitting. 

My Dad painted houses during the summer (teacher, so he had summers off but no pay at that time) and all of us kids painted with him from the time we were old enough to get up on a ladder.  And no, we weren't paid for any of the work that we did painting...our helping meant that Dad could bid and get more jobs and earn more money and his earning that money meant the difference between food on the table or going hungry.

I've talked with my siblings and none of us felt at all used and abused any more than our parents felt used and abused.  It was just the way things were.  We worked to help support our families and all of us felt/feel a great deal of pride in how much we were able to accomplish and how responsible we were for putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads from a very young age.

I never had any objection to my parents putting my kids to work.  The kids did less work than we did, but that is primarily because the family economics had improved from when we were kids. 

I knew my parents were doing the absolute best that they could and was not resentful either as a child or an adult.

I think that things have changed substantially. I know that I as an adult would consider it supremely irresponsible to have children that would be required to work to support the family. Nowadays, it is the parents responsibility to provide for their children. If you can't afford to support those children without their contributions, you can't afford to have those children. My children will eventually be required to have a job so that they have spending money and can learn responsible financial management. They will not need a job to subsidize my desire to have a family.

Well you can't send them back if you lose your job, you know. I am fortunate that I have never needed my children to earn their own keep, but I don't think it's okay to judge those who do, within reason. I mean, I can't imagine anyone giving birth just to earn extra income for the family. The earning capacity of a toddler is fairly limited...
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: sammycat on October 02, 2013, 05:09:50 AM

 Honestly, I think the situation described is complete extortion, and basically slave labour. The kid had no say in being forced to work a full time job, that health and safety regs would probably strongly object to a pre-teen doing.

snip

 An incident like this would have crippled any relationship I had with grandparents - every time I saw them when I was older I'd just think of how they effectively forced me into several thousand bucks/pounds worth of work.

I believe that kids should have the time to be kids and pursue creative and athletic pursuits.  I also believe they should have some choice in what work tasks they do, and they should be paid minimum wage or a reasonable equivalent.

I agree with both these comments.

Labour laws exist for a reason and I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine letting my 12 year old (or the 16 year old one for that matter) partake in this situation.

My 16 year old has worked casually in a fast food restaurant since he was 14 (his choice to get a job; I wasn't keen). Some weeks he has worked up to 20 hours, for full pay, in safe conditions and with full training. He loves to do DIY at home and will often help DH with jobs. But expecting him, or worse, the 12 year old, to work 40 hours a week in a job they're not trained for and not being compensated for? Not happening.

I have to say I'm very surprised at the number of posters who are okay with the OP's scenario and/or who did similar things when they were kids. Maybe it's because I've never known anyone who was involved in this sort of situation as a child, nor do I know anyone who'd put their own child into such a position, but the OP's situation seems way over line to me. Yes, as a teen some of my friends and I had after school/weekend jobs, but that was our own choice and we were paid properly, not used as slave labour by other family members.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Psychopoesie on October 02, 2013, 05:51:48 AM
I agree with some previous posters in that I don't see this as an etiquette issue. It seems to be either an issue of different parenting styles/situations or, if there is a conflict with local labour laws or occupational health and safety regulations, it then becomes a legal issue.



Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Dindrane on October 02, 2013, 08:09:02 AM
My Dad started working in the potato fields at age 6 and all of the money he earned was used to help support the family.  When he was 14, he took a bus to a larger city and worked in a meat packing plant while living at the local YMCA and sent the money he earned home to his family.

My Mom started working in a restaurant washing dishes at age 13, was a waitress at age 15 and held that and a job at a movie theater until she turned 17 whereupon she was working 20 hours a week during the school  year and 45 hours a week during the summer at the local Woolworths store.  The money she earned was used to help support her family.

I was babysitting when I was 10 years old and by the time I was 12, I was doing full-time 40 plus hours a week daycare for two younger children during the summer.  During the school year I probably worked about 20 hours doing babysitting on weekends/evenings.  The money I earned was used to help support the family, as was the money my brother earned from lawn care and shoveling snow and my sister from her baby sitting. 

My Dad painted houses during the summer (teacher, so he had summers off but no pay at that time) and all of us kids painted with him from the time we were old enough to get up on a ladder.  And no, we weren't paid for any of the work that we did painting...our helping meant that Dad could bid and get more jobs and earn more money and his earning that money meant the difference between food on the table or going hungry.

I've talked with my siblings and none of us felt at all used and abused any more than our parents felt used and abused.  It was just the way things were.  We worked to help support our families and all of us felt/feel a great deal of pride in how much we were able to accomplish and how responsible we were for putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads from a very young age.

I never had any objection to my parents putting my kids to work.  The kids did less work than we did, but that is primarily because the family economics had improved from when we were kids. 

I knew my parents were doing the absolute best that they could and was not resentful either as a child or an adult.

I think there is a difference between working to provide necessary support to your own immediate household, and working to provide non-necessary financial benefits to relatives you don't actually live with. Working to support the family you actually live with has direct benefit to you, even if you aren't paid.

In the situation described in the OP, the grandparents received direct benefit from their grandson because he provided them with free labor they would otherwise have had to do themselves or pay for. The parents received direct benefit from the grandparents, because they provided (presumably free) childcare/supervision they would otherwise have had to pay for. The one person in this scenario who didn't receive any direct benefit at all was the tween -- he didn't get anything he'd otherwise have had to spend his own resources on.

In a situation like that, I'd say it would have been fair to pay less than minimum wage for the work done, because helping out family is something that most families would like to encourage. It also could have been his parents paying him to help his grandparents, since they were getting childcare for free out of the deal. But I don't think it's fair to expect anyone to work the equivalent of a full-time job without pay unless the family's ability to eat depends upon it. And that was not the case here.
Title: Re: Kids and Free Labor
Post by: Virg on October 02, 2013, 09:00:08 AM
Sophia wrote:

"Yes, I think those were the only two choices.  Work alongside them, or laze about their house without supervision.  Since this is a kid needing supervision, lazing about the house is probably the best of the possible outcomes, with the alternative being getting into trouble.
I guess there is a third.  For the summer, abandon the expensive project that they started before they were asked to watch the kid."

They could work half days, or alternate days, so he's not doing the work we'd normally expect of a paid adult all summer.  They could work for a week and then do something fun for a week so the boy's whole summer isn't buried in hard labor.  They could postpone the work rather than abandoning it.  They could bring him to the flip house but not make him work full days every day for months.  There are many, many options on the continuum beyond the three you presented and it didn't take that long to think of them.  This kid is twelve.

Library Dragon wrote:

"It's not unusual today for teens to be working on family farms during harvest time.  In high schools in my county it's common for teens to be out for a week or two in October for cotton or soy bean harvest.  It's the family business and everyone pulls their weight."

How many of those high school kids are twelve years old?  How many of those teens walked away from their own family farms to work full time jobs for someone else for no money?  That's what happened here.  We're not talking about "the family business" here, because this is the first house they've flipped in nearly a decade, so one could hardly call it their bread and butter.  He's not "pulling his weight", he's pouring adult levels of effort into someone else's hobby without any reasonable way of avoiding it.


magicdomino wrote:

"Can you imagine a 12 year old boy's delight at being told, "Here's a hammer.  Go for it.""

Can you imagine how that delight would wane after three or four hours of it?  How about weeks?  There's a reason why adults have to be paid to be willing to do this kind of work for others.


TootsNYC wrote:

"We have no way to know exactly what the teen in question was asked to do.  He could have been at the job site all day, and yet not doing adult-grade work."

CoCoCamm wrote, "Oh and when I said Tween was used for free labor I mean hard labor. Demolition and it's resulting clean up, putting up sheet rock, laying down floors, acting as an apprentice for electrical and plumbing work, patching up the roof, etc."  I don't see any reason to disbelieve her in this.  And as I keep having to point out, this kid isn't a teen.  I find that people seem to be taking the mental image of some slacking fifteen-year-old, but this kid would have just finished sixth grade.

"As for injuries--my DD hurt her foot in a sports activity--it may dog her the rest of her life."

There's a big difference between sustaining an injury during something that you've actively asked to do and during something that you're made to do without your consent.

Virg