Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 16670 times)

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asb8

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #135 on: September 30, 2013, 11:22:26 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.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #136 on: September 30, 2013, 11:30:23 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.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #137 on: September 30, 2013, 11:40:34 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.

turnip

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #138 on: September 30, 2013, 11:44:21 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. 

ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #139 on: September 30, 2013, 11:46:31 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.

fountainof

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #140 on: September 30, 2013, 12:00:40 PM »
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. 
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 12:05:29 PM by fountainof »

wolfie

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #141 on: September 30, 2013, 12:13:21 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.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #142 on: September 30, 2013, 12:54:18 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.

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.
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Twik

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #143 on: September 30, 2013, 01:53:19 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.)
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ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #144 on: September 30, 2013, 02:25:18 PM »
POD to Twik, as usual.

fountainof

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #145 on: September 30, 2013, 02:49:34 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. 
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 02:57:24 PM by fountainof »

wolfie

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #146 on: September 30, 2013, 02:54:36 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.

nuit93

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #147 on: September 30, 2013, 02:59:13 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.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #148 on: September 30, 2013, 03:09:00 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...

WillyNilly

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #149 on: September 30, 2013, 03:17:18 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.