Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Pay or Not To Pay

I told myself I was going to report these facts to you in an unbiased fashion.  I was going to take a very politically correct, journalistic (<---Is that a word?) approach to this up and coming hot topic.  Take a seat breastfeeding/formula debaters, I have a new epidemic that you are sure to form your own solid opinion on.

To pay or not to pay your children to perform in sports.

If there was audio on this blog, imagine Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks blaring and then coming to a record screeching halt.

What do I mean, Pay your children to perform in sports?  I mean, you make a deal with your kids or negotiate what it will take for Billy Bob to hit a homerun.  For Sally Sue to score a goal.  For Frankie Wayne to sack the quarterback. For Betty Louellen to birdie her badmitton.

See where I am going with this?  Incentivising (<---Another made up word ala SurferWife) your kids to perform to your standards.  I suppose the argument for this goes something like, "Children respond well to incentive and positive reinforcement and what they want is $20 per goal or the $400 Lego Deathstar for an out of the park homerun."

Ok, I did my part reporting the positives of this epidemic.  Now, please allow me my opinions on the adverse effects of this reward system:

Hey dad who never played football or possibly played too much football (<---Think Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite--the middle aged man who keeps reliving his glory days), I have a memo for you.  It's now your child's time to shine and learn to love the sport the way you did.  Instead of enticing Laura Bob to get a hole in one with a handful of Washingtons, remind her why she has chosen to play this sport.

I don't know, maybe encourage her to want to perform for the simple satisfaction of accomplishing something great.  Instill a sense of self pride and capability to achieve these great feats.

Because you know what bribing a child does, in my not so humble opinion?  It produces a nasty sense of entitlement. "Look daddy, I kicked a ball.  What material item do I get now? Because damn it, daddy, I demand to receive a physical item every time I do something well."

My son has not received a single material item from me for his above average accomplishments on any field he has played on, thus far. You know what he does get though?  An insane amount of pride in his parents' eyes.  Very heartfelt congratulations, high fives and cheerleading from the stands.  Maybe he gets to choose dinner or grab a slurpee for an entire game well played.  But he will never, EVER hear his mother say, "Well, son, you sacked the quarterback twice and that's worth $10 a pop, you had 6 tackles, at $5 a piece and you scored a touchdown which is worth $25, so hang on let me pull out my wallet here and.....

You know what else you wont see or hear?  My kid running off the field screaming, "YEAH!  YOU OWE ME $75, MOM!  DID EVERYONE HEAR THAT?  BECAUSE I DID THE STUFF MY MOM WANTED ME TO DO, SHE HAS TO PAY ME $75."

You WILL hear his excited voice ask me if I saw a certain tackle or a great run for X amount of yards to which he gets back, "You bet I did, Buddy!  If you would have seen my reactions in the stands, you would have cringed with embarrassment, honey.  See?  That hard work you put in at practice this week, really paid off.  I'm so super proud of you, son!!"

Are the kids who get paid by their parents a better player than my son?  Not even a little bit.  He's not a starting pitcher in baseball because I pay him per strikeout.  He's not a starter on both defense and offense in football because he's earning money from me.  He's earning his own bragging rights because he loves the sport and wants to perform to his own expectations.  Funny, but I prefer teaching self pride over entitlement.  Go ahead and call me crazypants, it wont be the first time.

I will now step down from this bedazzled soap box.  I also use this same sparkly box to loudly support my son from at all of his games.  I can afford to add the extra sparkle because I'm not draining my wallet after each game.

Do you pay your kids for their accomplishments on the field or in their game?  If so, I sincerely want to hear about it.  Maybe I am missing a really crucial component here and you can enlighten me.  Truly, I want to hear every one's opinion on this topic.


  1. This frightens me. A lot. Not your opinion or your sparkly soapbox, but the fact that parents do this. What happened to the days of bragging rights and seeing your parents so proud being enough?

  2. *cringe* never never never. i'm with you on the self pride versus entitlement. i will be the loudest mom on the bench, but you won't be the highest paid 10 year old linebacker :p

  3. WHAT?! This is a thing? People pay their kids to do well in sports? I don't even know what to say, except shame on them. No wonder kids these days have such a sense of entitlement. Gross.

  4. I can see chores equaling money, or taking your kid out for a celbratory dinner after a great game, but to pay as a reward? They'll just grow up thinking they're entitled all the darn time. And those people suck.

  5. I am not athletic so this method of paying might have worked for me. But I couldn't agree more with SurferWife on this one -- giving your children money when they do good -- well I just don't support it. I have a hard time believing it is going to instill the appropriate characteristics we want our children to have.

  6. Abso-freakin-lutely NOT. I don't pay for grades, for soccer goals, for SAT scores, or cavity-free dentist visits.

    Where's the feeling of accomplishment? I totally agree with you here. I have heard parents "remind" their girls on the soccer field that they get $10 or an ice cream or something if they score a goal. The very first thing they do when they score? Yell at their parents, "Hey, ten bucks! Ice Cream!" rather than doing the high five with the team.

    Saddens me.

  7. i thought kids played sports because they like it? i mean, i chose my activities based on things i enjoyed doing. crap, if i were getting paid for it i would have sumo wrestled.
    i feel like if i have to deal with parents like this when i have a kid, i will probably kick them for being sucky.

  8. No and I think that's absurd.

    Those parents should be ashamed.

  9. I used to get pissed when parents paid for grades. Even at 8 I knew that was wrong. Paying for goals is just as abominable.

  10. Are you freaking kidding me? I have never heard of this. Maybe it is because I live in the poverty stricken Toledo, but still. I refuse to pay for anything, even chores. Now I would definitely take them out for ice cream or pizza for a great game, every once in a while, but I don't want it to be expected.

  11. I have paid for grades, it was a GREAT motivator, for my kid. I've always told my kids that it's their "job" to go to school, so when it became a struggle with my son, we made a contract for payment for good grades and he had to pay me for bad grades. My daughter doesn't need that kind of motivation (yet) she makes good grades without my bribery. Yes, they get a sense of accomplishment for doing well, but every single kid and person is different in their specific motivators. My son loved having his "own" money and loved not having to ask me for money to see a movie or get an ice cream at school, etc. He felt proud when he made the grades and had his own money. We have jokingly said "hey $100 for a homer" when in a clinch situation when one of the kids was playing ball, neither of them ever did it, but we would have paid if they had done it. We never said hey, you get this much for fielding or hitting or sliding, etc. I think it all depends on each person's perspective and as parents, we have to back up and let other parents do what they think is right for their kids and hope that they back up and let us do what we think is right for our kids.

  12. I have no problem sending the message that you get paid for hard work. its not bribery. Its life. My friend sent me this article because I told her that last night I paid my kid $1 for every rebound he attempted. Not made, but attempted. Sometimes on defense he forgets what he is supposed to do. It worked. Yeah, its great to think that playing the sport should be reward enough. But take it from someone who sucked at sports his whole life, it is crushing to your self esteem when when your coaches and team mates tell you you suck, put you on the bench, and make fun of you for striking out. Some kids are better at sports than others, and unlike lots of parents I could care less if my kids play sports. But if they are going to play, the message I send is at least work hard. And if it takes a buck or two or ice cream after the game to remind them to work hard so be it. Its life. Just like my job, i work hard because I get paid to work hard. I don't particularly enjoy my work, but I enjoy the life it provides my family.