Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 19434 times)

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WillyNilly

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2013, 03:41:45 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.

MrTango

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2013, 03:50:24 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.

EllenS

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2013, 04:22:08 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."
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Zilla

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2013, 04:27:43 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.

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2013, 04:35:09 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.

squeakers

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2013, 04:35:36 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.

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2013, 04:37:47 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.

ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2013, 04:39:48 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.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2013, 04:41:32 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.

EllenS

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2013, 04:45:46 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.
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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2013, 04:53:01 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?

Deetee

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2013, 04:59:27 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.

Twik

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2013, 05:03:09 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.)
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Virg

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2013, 05:05:00 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".

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Yvaine

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2013, 05:07:32 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).