Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 19124 times)

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oogyda

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #150 on: September 30, 2013, 03:44:49 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. 
It's not what we gather along the way that matters.  It's what we scatter.

turnip

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #151 on: September 30, 2013, 04:43:18 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!' ;-)

Two Ravens

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #152 on: September 30, 2013, 06:24:16 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.

nuit93

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #153 on: September 30, 2013, 06:29:18 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.

TootsNYC

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #154 on: September 30, 2013, 06:33:54 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.


turnip

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #155 on: September 30, 2013, 06:45:45 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?   

WillyNilly

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #156 on: September 30, 2013, 07:02:40 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.

ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #157 on: September 30, 2013, 07:05:46 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.

Eeep!

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #158 on: September 30, 2013, 07:17:39 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.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #159 on: September 30, 2013, 07:30:43 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.
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JoieGirl7

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #160 on: September 30, 2013, 07:34:33 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.

Iris

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #161 on: September 30, 2013, 08:05:19 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.

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blarg314

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #162 on: September 30, 2013, 08:20:44 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.


esposita

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #163 on: September 30, 2013, 09:15:37 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!

flickan

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #164 on: September 30, 2013, 09:50:31 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.