Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 17886 times)

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EllenS

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2013, 05:13:19 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.

Peregrine

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2013, 06:02:30 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.

Isilleke

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2013, 07:02:11 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.

blarg314

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2013, 09:27:43 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.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2013, 11:25:57 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?

Sophia

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2013, 11:42:09 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

nolechica

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2013, 12:07:10 AM »
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. 

Psychopoesie

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2013, 01:51:23 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.

hannahmollysmom

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2013, 02:15:09 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

Ryuugan80

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2013, 08:43:27 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.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 08:44:58 AM by Ryuugan80 »
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2013, 09:09:05 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.

BeagleMommy

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2013, 09:09:47 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.

Twik

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2013, 09:28:32 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.
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Two Ravens

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2013, 09:45:02 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.

LadyL

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #44 on: September 27, 2013, 09:57:02 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.