Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 17936 times)

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Lady Snowdon

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #120 on: September 29, 2013, 07:22:46 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. 

Sophia

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #121 on: September 29, 2013, 08:51:57 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. 

Queen of Clubs

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #122 on: September 29, 2013, 09:35:25 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.

violinp

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #123 on: September 29, 2013, 09:38:26 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.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #124 on: September 29, 2013, 09:51:29 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.

Sharnita

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #125 on: September 29, 2013, 10:23:56 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.

jmarvellous

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #126 on: September 29, 2013, 11:01:28 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.

Jones

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #127 on: September 29, 2013, 01:43:52 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.

Sharnita

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #128 on: September 29, 2013, 02:12:49 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.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #129 on: September 30, 2013, 02:36:32 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.

ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #130 on: September 30, 2013, 08:39:30 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.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #131 on: September 30, 2013, 09:03:45 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.


CaffeineKatie

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #132 on: September 30, 2013, 10:09:37 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.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #133 on: September 30, 2013, 10:46:02 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.

Minmom3

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #134 on: September 30, 2013, 11:15:32 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.
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