Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 17197 times)

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ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #180 on: October 01, 2013, 03:28:16 PM »
As a parent, I am glad that scenario would never fly between either set of grandparents and DS.

SpikeMichigan

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #181 on: October 01, 2013, 05:23:49 PM »

 Honestly, I think the situation described is complete extortion, and basically slave labour. The kid had no say in being forced to work a full time job, that health and safety regs would probably strongly object to a pre-teen doing.

 Whats minimum wage? 10 an hour? 40 hours a week, 12 weeks - thats nearly 5 grand they would have paid an outsider, that they get for free? Its total extortion. And, yes, you could deduct rent and food from that, but thats still a huge amount of money to be withholding for work done.

 An incident like this would have crippled any relationship I had with grandparents - every time I saw them when I was older I'd just think of how they effectively forced me into several thousand bucks/pounds worth of work.

 Just my take of course, I do understand that there are other angles.

Peregrine

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #182 on: October 01, 2013, 05:36:17 PM »
OP here~I apologize for my tardiness in getting back to the thread.

I really was just wondering if it's ok to make someone else's child do manual labor and I see that the majority feels that a Grandparent has a higher authority over a non family member babysitter and therefore has the right. So now I wonder if you know that a grandparent may ask your child to do manual labor do you have the preemptive conversation of "please ask me permission before you task my child with any work?"

I think I might be OK with my hypothetical kid being put to work if I knew beforehand what the deal was and I could talk it out with my kid.

In response to your question; I would never dream of having my parents ask permission to put my kiddo to work.  If I'm in a position of having to ask the enormous favor of having my parents provide full time daycare/supervision for a summer, then I'm in no position to start putting restrictions or conditions on their planned activities/jobs.

But I'm also looking at this from the perspective that I trust my parents not to task my child with age inappropriate activities.  If I found out that my hypothetical tween had refused to help out his grandparents in favor of lazing around all day, there would be heck to pay and he would be working twice as hard to make up for it.  This comes down to family dynamics, culture, relationships and a whole host of other things.  I and my husband work hard to provide a nice home, fun toys, educational opportunities, family vacations, books and all the other things that make a fun/safe/educational childhood, if my child refused to help out with family obligations all those fun things would be coming to screeching stop.

maia

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #183 on: October 01, 2013, 05:52:32 PM »
Many thanks to the OP for posting this thread - I've found it fascinating. Iím a longtime lurker, but I couldnít resist posting  :).

I'm no fan of coddling children (and am childfree), but 40 hours a week for a twelve year old is simply too much, IMO. At that age I'd be fine with part-time job hours (20ish or maybe a bit more), but I believe that kids should have the time to be kids and pursue creative and athletic pursuits.  I also believe they should have some choice in what work tasks they do, and they should be paid minimum wage or a reasonable equivalent.

In my own case, I had no choice about what jobs I had to do when I was growing up, I was not paid, and when my work was not up to my parents' standards, I was punished. Further, I donít believe that I learned much of substantive value, even when I worked with/for my father, who built homes in his spare time. People are quite capable of acquiring new skills as adults if itís something they want to know how to do, and Iíd much prefer to take a certified class led by a professional with time out for donut breaks and questions than be rushed through learning a task and then having to do it all over again when my performance was found to be lacking. Obviously, there were other family issues in my case, but I donít agree that all childhood work (beyond household chores) is necessarily a good thing or leads to learning something positive.

To the posters who've stated that injury concerns might be overblown - I was injured while driving a tractor on our family farm when I was 16 (we spent the summers there, but did not live there) doing a relatively innocuous task, a fairly minor but tenacious injury that I've lived with ever since (I'm 41 now). I had to take over the cost of treating this injury when I left home at 19, and Iíve spent a ton of money on medical bills over the years, as it requires ongoing care and will for the rest of my life (I'm getting a treatment tomorrow, as a matter of fact). Even if a task appears relatively safe, there's always still the chance of things going wrong.  If everyoneís on board, (and I include the child in this, absolutely), with regards to the activities that are being undertaken (contact sports, construction work, etc.) then itís just one of those unfortunate things we have to live with, but if the kid didnít consent to being in that situation in the first place, I think it makes things muddier.  Obviously, the seriousness of the injury and the family dynamic are important factors. (In my particular case, the conditions were not unsafe, it was really just one of those things, but my quality of life and pocketbook would have been better off without it).

On another note, Iím a little suspicious that the parent in this story, who grew up with this type of work being a normal part of life, might have been used to deferring to his parents about these types of issues, and might have been obeying a parent vs. making a decision in the best interests of their own child. Where the etiquette and parenting breach occurred, IMO, was when the grandparents did not speak to their child about their plans, and the tween was not consulted with regards to how he was going to spend his summer.  The real metric, as far as Iím concerned, is that the tween was ultimately unhappy about the arrangement. I agree with previous posters that some kids that age might be prone to being somewhat dramatic and non-compliant, but that doesnít mean that the tweenís feelings were of no importance.

I'm curious, OP, what does the son who did all this work think about this now, and what impact has it had on him and his relationship with his parents? If it was a minor inconvenience that has never been repeated and has long been forgotten, then it sounds like the family dynamic is a good one, and this was just one of those things. 

In any case, sorry about writing a book, but Iíve really enjoyed reading the responses, and Iíve never really thought about my own childhood labour as something that had anything to do with choice.  Interesting discussion!
--Maia

WillyNilly

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #184 on: October 01, 2013, 05:57:08 PM »

 Honestly, I think the situation described is complete extortion, and basically slave labour. The kid had no say in being forced to work a full time job, that health and safety regs would probably strongly object to a pre-teen doing.

Whats minimum wage? 10 an hour? 40 hours a week, 12 weeks - thats nearly 5 grand they would have paid an outsider, that they get for free? Its total extortion. And, yes, you could deduct rent and food from that, but thats still a huge amount of money to be withholding for work done.

 An incident like this would have crippled any relationship I had with grandparents - every time I saw them when I was older I'd just think of how they effectively forced me into several thousand bucks/pounds worth of work.

 Just my take of course, I do understand that there are other angles.

I get your point but your numbers don't work, at least not for everywhere. Minimum wages varies with plenty of states having it set at $7.25 an hour. And summer vacation varies too - in my city its 9 weeks not 12. Which puts the labor at just over $2,600, a far cry from $5k.

And family dynamics change things too, because I can say in my family my grandparents set up a fund for each grandkid that they paid small amounts into each year and upon turning 18 the kid got $5,000. And then included us generously in their wills, plus were very generous throughout life with all sorts of big gifts. So one summer of free labor really would still have the kid making out pretty darn well in the long run.

EllenS

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #185 on: October 01, 2013, 06:41:56 PM »
I'm with those who say, it comes down to trust.  If you trust your parents/inlaws to treat your kids in a loving and age-appropriate way, what is the problem?

[reiterating the fact that the boys' parents did not have a problem with it, even without prior clearance.]

If you don't trust your parents/in-laws to treat your child in loving and age-appropriate way, don't leave your kids with them.

There are enough examples on this thread of work being a positive, or negative, childhood experience, that I come back to the point:
it's not about the work
it's not about the money
it's about the relationship.

Daquiri40

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #186 on: October 01, 2013, 08:09:47 PM »
When I was a kid (ages 7 and up), we painted a room in our house every year.  I did the woodwork.  I did walls.  One day was kitchen day where we all had to pick a cupboard, empty it out, and scrub it out.

My father was the son of farmer - if you don't work; you do not deserve to eat.
My mother was the daughter of a woman who worked three jobs to provide for her children.

I cannot imagine going to stay with my grandparents for any amount of time and not have to do something.

Construction may be pretty intense but doing something is not out of the question.  Is painting for a few hours or helping out considered too much?

Figgie

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #187 on: October 01, 2013, 08:42:12 PM »
My Dad started working in the potato fields at age 6 and all of the money he earned was used to help support the family.  When he was 14, he took a bus to a larger city and worked in a meat packing plant while living at the local YMCA and sent the money he earned home to his family.

My Mom started working in a restaurant washing dishes at age 13, was a waitress at age 15 and held that and a job at a movie theater until she turned 17 whereupon she was working 20 hours a week during the school  year and 45 hours a week during the summer at the local Woolworths store.  The money she earned was used to help support her family.

I was babysitting when I was 10 years old and by the time I was 12, I was doing full-time 40 plus hours a week daycare for two younger children during the summer.  During the school year I probably worked about 20 hours doing babysitting on weekends/evenings.  The money I earned was used to help support the family, as was the money my brother earned from lawn care and shoveling snow and my sister from her baby sitting. 

My Dad painted houses during the summer (teacher, so he had summers off but no pay at that time) and all of us kids painted with him from the time we were old enough to get up on a ladder.  And no, we weren't paid for any of the work that we did painting...our helping meant that Dad could bid and get more jobs and earn more money and his earning that money meant the difference between food on the table or going hungry.

I've talked with my siblings and none of us felt at all used and abused any more than our parents felt used and abused.  It was just the way things were.  We worked to help support our families and all of us felt/feel a great deal of pride in how much we were able to accomplish and how responsible we were for putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads from a very young age.

I never had any objection to my parents putting my kids to work.  The kids did less work than we did, but that is primarily because the family economics had improved from when we were kids. 

I knew my parents were doing the absolute best that they could and was not resentful either as a child or an adult. 

esposita

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #188 on: October 01, 2013, 08:50:25 PM »
I'm with those who say, it comes down to trust.  If you trust your parents/inlaws to treat your kids in a loving and age-appropriate way, what is the problem?

[reiterating the fact that the boys' parents did not have a problem with it, even without prior clearance.]

If you don't trust your parents/in-laws to treat your child in loving and age-appropriate way, don't leave your kids with them.

There are enough examples on this thread of work being a positive, or negative, childhood experience, that I come back to the point:
it's not about the work
it's not about the money
it's about the relationship.

Yes, exactly. Very well put. :-)

blarg314

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #189 on: October 01, 2013, 09:06:18 PM »

I do find the argument that the kid needs supervision and can't be left alone an interesting one, given the job he was expected to do.

My nephew's after school program ends when he turns 12. His parents have to figure out an alternative after school plan for him, because he's *not* a kid who can be left alone for a few hours every day after school - he's impulsive, tends not to listen to instructions, and is inclined to get silly/over-excited and do dumb things.

For those very same reasons, there is absolutely no way he could be trusted on a construction site because he would be dangerous, to himself and to others.

So I'm having trouble seeing how a kid could be trusted to do what sounds like fairly hard core construction tasks involving roofing work, demolishing walls, and electrical/plumbing work - the kind of thing where, even with supervision, a certain level of common sense, responsibility and judgement is required or it's dangerous -  but not be trusted to be alone in a house by himself during the day.



esposita

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #190 on: October 01, 2013, 09:26:34 PM »

I do find the argument that the kid needs supervision and can't be left alone an interesting one, given the job he was expected to do.

My nephew's after school program ends when he turns 12. His parents have to figure out an alternative after school plan for him, because he's *not* a kid who can be left alone for a few hours every day after school - he's impulsive, tends not to listen to instructions, and is inclined to get silly/over-excited and do dumb things.

For those very same reasons, there is absolutely no way he could be trusted on a construction site because he would be dangerous, to himself and to others.

So I'm having trouble seeing how a kid could be trusted to do what sounds like fairly hard core construction tasks involving roofing work, demolishing walls, and electrical/plumbing work - the kind of thing where, even with supervision, a certain level of common sense, responsibility and judgement is required or it's dangerous -  but not be trusted to be alone in a house by himself during the day.

See, to me it seems perfectly reasonable that a kid who couldn't be left home alone all day because he'd not spend his time wisely (or because he'd get into trouble of some kind) would be just fine under the watchful eye of a grandparent. I mean, they were probably right there with him, instructing him, since I gather from the OP that he's not done this type of work before. I can't let my kids gather eggs or feed the chickens by themselves because they are too young, but they are very capable when they are being watched and directed.

TootsNYC

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #191 on: October 01, 2013, 09:59:42 PM »
...are the only two choices to let him laze about entirely or make him work an adult-grade full time job for weeks?  Is there nothing on the continuum in between those extremes that would be more suitable for a tween?

Virg

We have no way to know exactly what the teen in question was asked to do.
He could have been at the job site all day, and yet not doing adult-grade work.

He might have been allowed to take big rests, or delegated to holding doors and ladders, or designated to carry out smaller pieces of drywall after Grandpa sledgehammered them.

As for injuries--my DD hurt her foot in a sports activity--it may dog her the rest of her life.

nolechica

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #192 on: October 01, 2013, 11:15:00 PM »
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.

Exactly, I'm no good at manual labor or sewing, I can cook or bake, but only do so for special occasions.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #193 on: October 01, 2013, 11:18:11 PM »


You aren't the first poster to ask this question, and the question I ask in response is, are the only two choices to let him laze about entirely or make him work an adult-grade full time job for weeks?  Is there nothing on the continuum in between those extremes that would be more suitable for a tween?

Virg

I agree. Many posters here seem to be assuming that, if not working on construction 40 hours a week, the Tween would be lazing around on his bum the whole time. I personally think that's a rather unfair assumption. There's lots of constructive things a 12 year old could do with their summer holidays. Some that spring to mind include:

- Mowing neighbours' lawns / weeding their gardens (and thus, earning his OWN pocket money);
- Reading next year's textbooks (and thus, giving himself an advantage in class when school goes back);
- Getting a baseball team (or cricket team, if the OP is in the UK or a Commonwealth country) together with other kids, and practising his sports skills;
- Engaging in a positive and interesting hobby, such as building a model ship, or learning how to play chess, etc.

Who's to say that this Tween wouldn't have been keen to do any of the above?

nolechica

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #194 on: October 01, 2013, 11:26:48 PM »
This is an interesting thread to me because I spent summer time with my grandparents, but not 9-12 weeks.  After a week of chores for them I'd have called my mom (her parents) and said I want to come home.  Vacation is supposed to be just that.  And no I wouldn't object to setting table, cleaning room, folding laundry stuff.  Just an unwanted, unpaid job as a kid.  And yes those grandparents were the sort that grew up on farms and would so have done this if they could.  Fortunately, they were 70+ not 50+.