Details for FAMILY FOCUS COVER 8
Pros and cons to giving kids allowances P arents can employ various strategies, including assigning chores, to instill a sense of responsibility in their children. The natural segue from chores is to offer compensation for the jobs that children are doing. Allowances can provide foundations for parents to teach kids about working for a living. Kids are able to grasp the concept that money doesn’t come without hard work. Also, allowances paint the picture that one’s financial resources are commensurate with the effort he or she puts in. Giving allowances also can help teach children how to manage money, plan ahead and make spending choices about what’s most important, according to the parenting guide Raise Smart Kids. Allowances can be tough to figure out. For example, parents may not know how to determine the rate and frequency of payouts. According to Lewis Mandell, a former dean of business at the State University of New York at Buffalo, giving a child an allowance, especially a regular, unconditional allowance that the child can depend on, isn’t the right way to approach allowances. Children may begin to view this allowance as an entitlement. In fact, Mandell’s research on teens in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia found, without exception, that teens who received a regular unconditional allowance had diminished financial literacy, lower levels of motivation and an increased aversion to work. But when handled properly, allowances can be important tools. Here are some additional benefits to allowances. •Allowances can provide incentive to get chores done. •Allowances can motivate students to work hard at school. •Allowances can include a required portion to be donated, teaching kids the importance of being charitable. Learning the correlation between work and compensation is a lesson that starts in childhood. Allowances can be an important part of kids’ early financial education. Family cycling: An enjoyable escape G oing for a bike ride is one of the best ways for people to exercise in fresh air. Cycling is not only earthconscious and convenient, but it also is a fun and popular activity that anyone can enjoy. Around 1.6 million residents of New York City ride a bike at least once a month, and in Portland, bike riding rose by 3 percent each year since 2012, according to Bikemunk, a website dedicated to helping people understand bikes, especially in the context of making a purchase. The Alliance for Biking & Walking discovered that 0.6 percent of all commuters in the United States biked to work in 2013, up from 0.5 percent in 2009 and 0.4 percent in 2005. But many people are embracing cycling as an entertaining form of recreation that the entire family can enjoy. Adults may have fond memories of their own cycling adventures as children that they want to pass down to their kids. Since families may feature cyclists with various levels of experience, it can be safe to employ certain strategies in the hopes that everyone gets the most out of their time in the cycling saddle. Buy the right bikes. Take time to research different brands of bicycles and what they offer. Some bikes are ideal for streets or paved trails, while others are better for rustic roads and trails. A qualified bike retailer can help shoppers find the right bike for them and their families, ensuring everyone in the family is riding the right size bike and the one commensurate with their skill level. Limit the distance. Children won’t be able to put in as many miles as their parents or older siblings. Limit cycling excursions to a reasonable amount of time so youngsters’ health is not compromised. Focus on fun. Consider what kids will get out of the trip and gear the afternoon around that. Choose a path that leads riders to a playground or one that circles a scenic lake. Make your cycling excursion more of an afternoon out than a marathon biking session. Take frequent breaks. Little legs may not be able to keep up, and adults will need to anticipate stopping along the way. Know the terrain. Stick to routes you have ridden before. Leave the more intense courses that include extreme climbs and dips for those times when kids are not in tow. Stick to lightly trafficked routes, or travel during off-peak hours. Consult with trail guides and read reviews as well. Check bikes before departing. Make sure tires are inflated and everything else is in working order. Bring a small tool kit along in case a repair needs to be made. Cycling as a family can be an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and get some exercise.